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iLUl 




Gl Gl Bingham 

Groton, S. D. 



The BEST MAM 



The 

BEST MAN 

HAROLD HACCRATH 

Author of The Man on the. 

Box, Hearts and Masksi 

Half a Rogue, Etc. 

With Illustrations by WillGiefe. 

Decorations ^ Franklin Booth 



NEW YORK 

A. L. BURT COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



Copyright 1907 
Thb Bobbs-Merrill Company 

October 



To the Ramsdells 

In Memory of 

Many Pleasant Florentine Days 



Thanks arc due Ainshr's Magazine for 
permission to republish The Advent of Mr. 
"Shifty" Sullivan. 



The BEST MAM 



THE BEST MAN 



CARRIXGTON folded the docu- 
ment and thoughtfully balanced 
it on his palm. What an ironical 
old world it was! There was a perpen- 
dicular wrinkle about his nose, and his 
lips had thinned into a mere line which 
drooped at the corners. The drone of a 
type-writer in the adjoining room sound- 
ed above the rattle-tattle of the street 
below. Through the opened windows 
came a vague breath of summer redolent 
of flowers and grasses; for it was but 
eleven o'clock of the morning, and the 
smell of sun-baked brick and asphalt had 
not yet risen through the air. Far beyond 

XI 



TH E B EST MAN 

the smoking, ragged sky-line Carrington 
could see the shifting, glittering river and 
the great ships going down to the sea. 
Presently the ashes from his dead cigar 
fell in a gray cascade down his coat and 
tumbled across his knees, but he gave no 
heed. 

Ironical old world indeed I Here, sud- 
denly and unexpectedly, he found himself 
upon the battle-field of love and duty, 
where all honest men find themselves, 
sooner or later. To pit the heart against 
the conscience, impulse against calcula- 
tion! Heigh-ho! Dut}' is an implacable 
goddess, and those who serve her most 
loyally are most ruthlessly driven. She 
bufTets us into this corner and into that, 
digs pitfalls for the hesitant foot, and 
crushes the vacillating. 

As all men will, Carrington set about 
to argue down his conscience; the heart is 

12 



THE BEST MAX 

SO insistent a counselor. Why should he 
give up the woman he loved, simply be- 
cause duty demanded he should? After 
all, was not duty merely social obligation? 
What was it to him that the sheep were 
sheared? Was it right that he, of all men, 
should divide the house, throw the black 
pall of dishonesty over it, destroy his own 
happiness and hers, when so simple a 
thing as a match would crumble into 
nothingness this monument to one man's 
greed and selfishness? The survival of 
the fittest; if he put aside Self, who would 
thank him? Few, and many would call 
him a fool or a meddler. So many voices 
spoke that he seemed to hear none dis- 
tinctly. 

He alone had made these astonishing 

discoveries; he alone had followed the 

cunningly hidden trail of the serpent. He 

could stop where he was and none would 

13 



THE BEST MAN 

be the wiser. To be sure, it was only a 
question of time when the scandal would 
become public through other channels; 
but in that event he would not be held 
responsible for bringing about the cat- 
astrophe. Besides, the ways of the ser- 
pent are devious and many, and other 
investigators might not come so close to 
the trail. 

He had gone about his investigations 
without the least idea where they would 
lead him. At the beginning he had be- 
lieved that the guilty ones were none 
higher than petty officials; but presently 
he found himself going over their heads^ 
higher and higher, until, behold! he was 
at the lair of the old serpent himself. A 
client had carelessly dropped a bit of in- 
formation, and it had taken seed with 
this surprising result. Henry Cavenaugh, 
millionaire promoter, financier, trusC 



THE BEST MAN 

magnate, director in a hundred money- 
gathering concerns; Henry Cavenaugh, 
the father of the girl he loved and who 
loved him! Could it be he, indeed? It 
seemed incredible. 

It was not a case of misappropriation 
of funds, such as a man may be guilty of 
when temporarily hard pressed. It was 
a bold and fraudulent passing of divi- 
dends that rightfully belonged to the 
investors; of wrongfully issuing state- 
ments of bolstered expenses, lack of 
markets, long strikes (promoted by Cave- 
naugh and his associates!), insufficient 
means of transportation. An annual divi- 
dend of seven per cent, on many mil- 
lions had been dishonestly passed over. 
The reports that there would be no divi- 
dends encouraged a slump in the listed 
price of the stock, and many had sold 
under par value, thereby netting to Cave- 



THE BEST MAN 

naugh and others several millions. And 
the proof of all this lay in his hand! 

It had been a keen hunt. Many and 
many a blind trail had he followed, only 
to come back to the start again. All that 
now remained for him to do was to pass 
this document on to the hands of the in- 
trepid district attorney, and justice would 
be meted out to the guilty. 

Her father 1 The picture of him rose 
suddenly and distinctly in his mind. Tall, 
powerfully built, a hooked nose, keen 
blue eyes, an aggressive chin, a repellent 
mouth, Henry Cavenaugh was the per- 
sonification of the modern Croesus. Im- 
mutable in purpose, dogged in persever- 
ance, a relentless enemy, a Jesuit in that 
the end always justified the means, he 
stood a pillar in the world of finance, 
where there is sometimes justice but never 
any mercy. Thirty-five years before he 
i6 



THE BEST MAN 

had been a messenger in a stock-broker's 
office. Of his antecedents nothing was 
known until he broke one of the famous 
gold corners in the seventies, when a 
handsome, ruddy-cheeked little Irishman 
bobbed up serenely from nowhere in par- 
ticular and claimed to be the great Cave- 
naugh's father. But his proofs were not 
convincing, and v.hcn the son showed a 
decided contempt for him, he gently sub- 
sided into oblivion and was heard of no 
more. From time to time Carrington 
gathered a small crumb of information 
regarding his sweetheart's grandfather; 
but whenever he broached the subject, 
however tactfully, everybody concerned 
headed the conversation for a different 
port. 

Carrington had never laid eyes on the 
old gentleman, and, for all he knew to the 
contrary, he might be a myth. He rea- 

17 



THE BEST MAN 

soned that in all probability the graHd- 
father was illiterate, uncouth, and rather 
an awkward piece of family furniture to 
handle, when the family proper were in- 
gratiating themselves into the Chippen- 
dales of society. Unfortunately, Mother 
Cavenaugh, good-hearted and amiable in 
her way, had been stung by the bee of the 
climbers, and her one ambition was to 
establish herself and daughters in society; 
and had not he, Carrington, come of an 
aristocratic family (poor, it is true), the 
doors of the Cavenaugh manor would 
never have opened to his knock. Even as 
it was, he was persona non grata to the 
millionaire, who was mad for a duke in 
the family. Besides, Cavenaugh had his 
suspicions of any lawyer who grubbed 
outside the breastworks. 

Some doves circled above a church- 
spire t few streets over the way, break- 
i8 



THE BEST MAN 

ing the sunbeams against their polished 
wings. Finally they settled on the slate 
roof and fell to strutting and waddling 
and swelling their breasts pompously. 
Carrington opened and refolded the docu- 
ment, but he did not take his eyes from 
the doves. What should he do? What ill 
wind had blown this thing into his door- 
way? Nothing had warned him of the 
impending tangle. Until two days ago 
Cavenaugh was at the other end of the 
world, so far as his investigations at that 
time were concerned. 

He struck a match. GThe sliver of pine 
flared palely in the sunshine, writhed 
and dropped, black and charred, to the 
floor. He shrugged his shoulders. Chiv- 
alry of this sort was not the order of the 
day. There was something stronger than 
the voice of duty, something stronger 
tham tkc yoice of the heart; it was the 

19 



THE BEST MAN 

voice of pity, which urged its appeal for 
the hundreds of men and women who 
had invested their all in the Cavenaugh 
concerns. The thought of their ultimate 
ruin, should Cavenaugh be permitted to 
pursue his course unchecked, bore heav- 
ily upon him. No, he could not do it. 
He must fight, even if he lost his all in 
the battle. It is a fine thing to right a 
wrong. All the great victories in the 
world have been won for others than the 
victors. That Cavenaugh was the father 
of the girl he loved must have no weight 
on the scales of justice. 

Resolutely he thrust the document into 
his coat pocket, closed his desk and re- 
lighted his cigar. In that moment he had 
mapped out his plan of action. That very 
night he would lay the whole thing very 
clearly before the girl herself, and what- 
ever decision she made, he would stand or 
20 



THE BEST MAN 

fall by it, for he knew her to be the soul 
of honor. 

Poor girl! It was a heart-breaking 
business. How in the world should he 
begin, and where should he stop? Ah, 
that was it I He would lay the matter be- 
fore her in a manner that would conceal 
the vital nearness of the case, as if it were 
some client of his who was unknown to 
her. And when she had judged the case, 
he would speak the bald truth. It would 
be a cruel blow, but nevertheless he must 
deal it. She loved her father, and after 
his own peculiar fashion her father loved 
her. She was the only one in the family 
who could wheedle him out of a purpose; 
to the rest of the family his word was law 
immutable. It was very hard, sighed Car- 
rington. For the father he had neither 
pity nor sympathy; there were many ugly 
tales about his financial dealings; but his 

21 



THE BEST MAN 

whole heart went out unreservedly to the 
girl. 

When Carrington had gone to Cave- 
naugh, his heart in his throat, to speak to 
him relative to his daughter's hand, he 
unwittingly knocked off the top of a vol- 
cano. 

"Marry my daughter?" Cavenaugh 
roared, emphasizing his wrath and dis- 
approval with a bang of fist upon palm. 
"My daughter shall marry only among 
her equals, not among her inferiors. A 
king is not good enough for my Kate." 
There was another bang of the fist, de- 
cided and final. "A lawyer? Not if I 
know myself. I wouldn't trust a lawyer 
out of sight," bluntly. "Kate shall marry 
a duke or a prince, if I can find one suit- 
able." 

Carrington would have smiled had the 
moment been less serious. 

22 



THE BEST MAN 

"No man can possibly appreciate her 
worth more readily than I, sir," he re- 
plied, "or love her more dearly." 

"Love?" with a snort. "Twaddle out 
of story-books!" 

"But you yourself love her." 

"Fm her father," Cavenaugh returned 
complacently, adding a gesture which 
had the cfTect of describing the fact that 
it w^as perfectly logical for a father to, 
love his daughter, but that it wasn't log- 
ical at all for any other male biped to 
love her. 

"I am sorry," said the disheartened 
suitor, rising. "I suppose that after this 
unpleasant interview ..." 

"Oh, you're a decent sort," interrupted 
Cavenaugh generously; "and if you are 
of a mind to behave 3'ourself hereafter, 
you will always find a chair at my table. 
But my daughter is not for you, sir, em- 
23 



THE BEST MAN 

phatically not. That is all, sir;" aad 
Cavenaugh picked up his evening paper. 

After such a rebuff, most young men 
would have given up; but Carrington 
never gave up till there was no possibility 
of winning. Immediately after the inter- 
view he went to the higher court with his 
appeal. 

*'Lct us have patience," the girl whis- 
pered. "I'll undertake to bring him to 
reason." 

But Carrington went home that night 
without his love for the father increasing 
any. 

And so the matter stood at the present 
time. The affair had gone neither for- 
ward nor backward. 

Ah, were he less honest, how easily he 

could bring the old curmudgeon to terms 1 

7 here was that in his pocket which would 

open the way to the altar, quickly enough. 

24 



THE BEST MAN 

But Carrington was manly and honest to 
the core, and to him blackmail stood 
among the basest of crimes. Many times 
during the past forty-eight hours the 
tempter had whispered in his ear that 
here was a way out of his difficulties; but 
the young man had listened unmoved. 

During the summer and autumn 
months of the year the Cavenaughs lived 
at their country place over in New Jersey, 
and there Carrington spent the week-ends. 
There were horses to ride, golf and tennis, 
and a Saturday night dance at the Coun- 
try Club. To be with the girl you love, 
even if you can't have her, is some com- 
pensation. Cavenaugh never joined the 
fetes and sports of the summer colonists, 
but he offered no objections to the fem- 
inine members of his household for select- 
ing Carrington as their escort for the 
week-ends. Indeed, by now he began to 

25 



THE BEST MAN 

consider Carrington as a harmless, sen- 
sible, well-groomed young man, who re- 
liered him of all the painful duties to the 
frivolous. If the colonists insisted on 
coupling his daughter's name with Car- 
rington's, let them do so ; when the proper 
moment came he would disillusionize 
them. For himself, he always had some 
good old crony down to while away the 
dull Sundays; and together they consum- 
mated plans that gave the coup de grace 
to many a noble business galleon. This 
particular summer there were no dukes 
•r princes floating around unattached, 
and Cavenaugh agreed that it was a com- 
mendable time to lay devices by which to 
ambush the winter money. 

There were nights when Cavenaugh 
did not sleep very well; but of this, more 
anon. 

Shortly after his determination to tell 
26 



THE BEST MAN 

Kate half a truth, Carrington left the of- 
fice and made an early train into New 
Jersey. All the way over to the Cave- 
naugh station he was restless and uneasy. 
The fatal papers still reposed in his 
pocket. He had not dared to leave them 
in the office safe; his partner, who had 
had no hand in the investigation, might 
stumble across them, and that was the last 
thing in the world he desired. He knew 
not exactly what to do with them; for 
they burned like fire in his pocket, and 
seemed to scorch his fingers whenever he 
touched them to learn if they were still 
there. A thousand and one absurd sup- 
positions assailed him. Supposing, for 
instance, there should be a wreck; suppos- 
ing he should be robbed; supposing he 
should leave his vest on the links; and so 
forth and so forth. It was very depressing. 
If only he stood in the open, unhandi- 
27 



THE BEST MAN 

capped ; if only he might throw the gaunt- 
let at Cavcnaugh's feet the moment they 
met! 

Ah, if he had only attended to his own 
affairs! But he hadn't; and his inquisi- 
tivencss had plunged him into a Chinese 
tangle from which there seemed to be no 
exit. But there was an exit; only, if at 
that moment Cassandra had whispered 
the secret into his ear, it would have ap- 
pealed to him as the most improbable 
thing under the sun. However, there are 
no trustworthy Cassandras these sordid 
days; a single look into the future costs 
a dollar; and as for Greek choruses, they 
trundle push-carts on the East Side. 

He had broken bread and eaten salt at 
Cavcnaugh's table; and now it was de- 
creed that he must betray him. It was not 
a pleasant thought. And still less pleas- 
ant was the thought of telling Kate (in 
28 



THE BEST MAN 

a roundabout fashion, it is true) that her 
father was not an honest man. According 
to financial ethics, what Cavenaugh did 
was simply keen business instinct; noth- 
ing mere. If you or I should happen to 
bend an odd cornice of the majestic pillar 
of law, we'd be haled off to the county 
jail forthwith; but if we possessed the 
skill to smash the whole fabric or rather, 
to continue the metaphor, the whole pil- 
lar, the great world would sit up and ad- 
mire us. What arc old la\\'s for, anyhow? 
Build you never so wisely your law, there 
will always be some one to come along 
and tack on a nice little amendment, 
subtly undoing in a moment what it took 
years of labor to accomplish. In this in- 
stance, Cavenaugh had been careless; he 
had forgotten to introduce his amend- 
ment. An infinitesimal grain of sand v/ill 
stop the best regulated clock. The in- 
29 



THE BEST MAN 

fallible invariably die on the heels of 
their first victory. 

On leaving the train, Carrington espied 
the Cavenaugh station carriage. The 
coachman was talking to a little wiry old 
man, whose gray eyes twinkled and whose 
complexion was mottled and withered 
like a wind-fall apple. Seeing Carring- 
ton draw nigh, the coachman touched his 
hat respectfully, while the little old man, 
who was rather shabbily dressed, stepped 
quickly around the corner of the plat- 
form. Evidently he did not wish to be in- 
spected at close range. Carrington threw 
his suit-case and golf-bag into the car- 
riage, and followed them. Thereupon the 
coachman touched the horses lightly, and 
they started westward at a brisk trot. 

"Who's your friend?" asked Carring- 
ton, who, though never familiar, was al- 
ir«.ys friendly toward his inferiors. 



THE BEST MAN 

"He's no friend of mine, sir," answered 
the coachman, with well-bred contempt. 
"Miss Cavenaugh directed me to drive 
you straight to the club, sir." 

"Very well," replied Carrington, light- 
ing a cigar and settling back among the 
cushions. 

Immediately he forgot all about the 
shabby old man, and began to inventory 
his troubles. He must hide the papers 
somewhere. All the evidence he had, to- 
gether with the names of the witnesses, 
was on his person; for in making the 
whole he had prudently destroyed the 
numerous scraps. If this document fell 
into alien hands, the trouble would double 
itself. He puffed quickly, and the heat of 
the cigar put a smart on his tongue. He 
had nothing to do but wait. 

On the steps of the club's porte-cochire 
he was greeted by Miss Cavenaugh, w1i« 
31 



TH E BEST MAN 

was simply and tastefully dressed in 
white. If there was a sudden cardiac dis- 
turbance in Carrington's breast, the girl's 
tender beauty certainly justified it. The 
fresh color on her cheeks and lips, the 
shining black hair that arched a white 
forehead, the darkly fringed blue eyes, 
the slender, rounded figure, the small feet 
and shapely hands, all combined to pro- 
duce a picture of feminine loveliness 
warranted to charm any masculine eye. 
Let the curious question Cavenaugh's an- 
tecedents, if they were so inclined, 
thought Carrington; here was abundant 
evidence of what a certain old poet called 
the splendid corpuscle of aristocracy. 

Her sister went by the sonorous name 
of Norah. She was seventeen, a bit of a 
tomboy, but of the same build and ele- 
gant carriage that distinguished Kate 
^from ordinary mortals ; only Norah's eyes 

32 



TH E BEST MAN 

were hazel-tinted and her hair was that 
warm brown of the heart of a chestnut- 
bor. She was of merry temperament, 
quick to like or to dislike, and like her 
sister, loyal to those she loved. Both girls 
possessed that uncommon gift in women, 
the perfect sense of justice. You never 
heard them gossiping about anybody; and 
when a veranda conversation drifted to- 
ward scandal, the Cavenaugh girls in- 
variably drifted toward the farther end 
of the veranda. All the men admired 
them; they were such good fellows. 

The mother of the girls was, as I have 
remarked, good-natured and amiable, in- 
clined toward stoutness, and a willing 
listener to all that was going on. She con- 
sidered it her boundcn duty to keep in- 
formed regarding the doings of her inti- 
mate friends, but with total lack of 
malice. At this moment she occupied her 
33 



TH E B EST MAN 

favorite corner on the club veranda, and 
was engaged in animated tittle-tattle. She 
nodded and smiled at Carrington. 

Norah was playing tennis. She wared 
her racket at the new arrival. Carrington 
was her beau-ideal. 

He hurried into the dressing-room and 
shortly returned in his golf flannels. He 
was a sturdy chap, not at all handsome, 
but possessing a countenance full of strong 
lines. He inspired your trust and confi- 
dence, which is far better than inspiring 
your admiration. 

"I am not going to play to-day," said 
Kate, *'so I'll follow over the course and 
watch you play. I haven^t seen you for a 
whole week; and I can't talk and play, 
too," smiling. 

"Forward, then!" cried Carrington, 
beckoning to his caddy. 

He played a nervous, fidgety game that 
34 



THE BEST MAN 

afternoon. Every time he teed his ball the 
document spoke from his pocket with an 
ominous crackle. There was not one bril- 
liant stroke to his credit. This puzzled 
the girl, for only the previous week he 
had been runner-up in the annual tourna- 
ment for crack amateurs. He made the 
ninth hole indifferently, then turned to 
the girl, smiling whimsically. 

*'You are not playing up to your form 
to-day, John," she observed. 

**I admit it," he replied, tossing his club 
to the caddy, who, well versed in worldly 
affairs, serenely shouldered the bag and 
made off toward the club house. "My 
heart isn't in the game, Kate. The fact is, 
I'm in a peck of trouble." He determined 
to tell her at once. There might not be 
another opportunity like this. 

"Why, John!" reproachfully. 

"Oh, it came only yesterday. I haven't 
35 



THE BEST MAN 

been hiding it. I'm in a kind of pocket, 
and can't exactly see my way out. I want 
your advice ; and you must be the jury and 
judge rolled into one." 

They were standing on a hill, and far 
away they could see the pale line where 
the shimmering summer sea met the tur- 
quoise bowl of heaven. 

"Tell me what your difficulty is, John, 
and I will judge it the best I know how." 

He never knew what a simple, beauti- 
ful name John was till it fell from the 
lips of this girl. Many called him Jack; 
but only his mother and this girl called 
him John. He motioned toward the sand- 
box, and they sat down. The other play- 
ers were well scattered about, out of hear- 
ing. He made out his case skilfully 
enough, giving his plaintiff and defend- 
ant fictitious names. The thing grew so 
real to him, as he went on, that toward 
36 



THE BEST MAN 

the end he rose to the dramatics. The girl 
listened, but with never a glance at him. 
Rather her gaze roved over the dancing 
gray waters and followed the lonely white 
sail that stood out to sea. And when he 
reached the climax, silence of some dura- 
tion fell upon them. 

^'Should this man be punished?" he 
asked at length. 

"He is guilty; he has broken two laws, 
the civic and human. Oh, the poor peo- 
ple!" pathetically. "They are never at 
peace; the wolf harries them, and the 
jackal; they arc robbed, beaten and 
spurned. They arc like sheep, not know- 
ing how to fight. They arrest a man for 
his poverty; they applaud him for his 
greed. It is all very wrong." 

The sail fell under the shadow of a 
cloud, and they both watched it till it 
flashed into the sunlight again. 



THE BEST MAN 

"A woman's intuition is sometimes ab- 
normally keen. You arc strong enough 
to fight such things without the advice of 
a woman. Is there not something vital to 
me in all this? Is it not . . . ii it not 
my father, John?" 



38 



II 



CARRINGTON faced her swiftly. 
He had not expected this. There 
was something in her handsome 
eyes that barred the way to subterfuge. 
The lie died unspoken, and he dropped 
his gaze and began to dig up the turf 
with the toe of his shoe. 
"Is it my father, John?' 
'Tes. Oh, Kate," with a despairing 
gc€ture, "Tm the most miserable fellow 
alive! To think that this should fall into 
my hands, of all hands in the world!" 

•'Perhaps it is better so," quietly. 

^''Nothing is without purpose. It might 

have come to test your honesty. But you 

arc sure, John; it is not guess-work?" 

"All the evidence is in my pocket. Say 

39 



THE BEST MAN 

the word, and the wind shall carry it 
down to the sea. Say the word, heart o* 
mine I" 

He made a quick movement toward his 
pocket, but she caught his arm. 

"Do nothing foolish or hasty, John. 
Tearing up the evidence would not undo 
what is done. Sooner or later murder 
will out. If my father is culpable, if in 
his thoughtless greed for money he has 
robbed the poor, he must be made to re- 
store what he has taken. I know my fa- 
ther; what he has done appears perfectly 
legitimate to him. Can he be put in 
prison?" 

"It all depends upon how well he de- 
fends himself," evasively. 

She went on. "I have been dreading 
something like this ; so it is no great sur- 
prise to me. He is money-mad, money- 
mad; and he hears, sees, thinks nothing 
40 



THE BEST MAN 

but money. But it hurts, John; I am a 
proud woman. My grandfather ..." 
Her lips shut suddenly. "Money!" with 
a passionate wave of the hand. "How I 
hate the name of it, the sound of it, the 
thought of it! I love my father," with a 
defiant pride; "he has always been ten- 
der and kind to me ; and I should not be 
of his flesh and blood had I not the de- 
sire to shield and protect him." 

"The remedy is simple and close at 
hand," suggested Carrington gently. 

"Simple, but worthy of neither of us. 
I abhor anything that is not wholly hon- 
est. It is one of those strange freaks of 
nature (who holds herself accountable to 
no one) to give to me honesty that is the 
sum total of what should have been evenly 
distributed among my ancestors. If I 
were to tell all I know, all I have kept 
locked in my heart ..." 
41 



THE BEST MAN 

"Don't do it, girl; it wouldn't matter 
in the least. You are you ; and that is all 
there is to love. Why, I could not love 
you less if your great-great-grandfather 
was a pirate," lightly. "Love asks no 
questions ; and ancestors worry me not at 
all ; they are all comfortably dead." 

"Not always. But if my perception of 
honor were less keen, I should laugh at 
what you call your evidence." 

"Laugh?" 

"Yes, indeed. I very well understated 
the tremendous power of money." 

"Not more than I," sadly. 

She laughed brokenly. "More than 
you. I can picture to you just what will 
happen." She rose. "There will, of 
course, be a great newspaper clamor; the 
interstate commissioners will put their 
heads together; there will be investiga- 
tions by the government. That will be 
42 



THE BEST MAN 

the attaek. The keenest lawyers are on the 
side of corporations; that is because the 
state is niggard with her pay. Let me out- 
line the defense. Father will resign from 
his high office, to be reelected later when 
the public cools off! A new directorate 
will fill the place of the present one. Sud- 
denly falsified entries will be discovered ; 
the head bookkeeper will have disap- 
peared. All fingers will point to him. He 
will be in South America, having been 
paid several thousand to go there. All 
this will make the passing of the dividend 
perfectly logical. The matter will never 
be tried in court. Money will do all this." 
"My dear little woman, you reason like 
Pythagoras; but," Carrington added 
gravely, "when I undertook to untangle 
this aflfair, I realized its huge proportions. 
For every redoubt your father has, I have 
an assault, for every wall a catapult, for 
43 



THE BEST MAN 

every gate a petard. But, as I said before, 
you have only to say the word, and for the 
present nobody will be any the wiser." 

"If I permitted you to do this, I should 
destroy my faith in both of us. It would 
erect a barrier which would be insur- 
mountable. That is not the way out." 

"I have weighed all these things," dis- 
couragedly. 

He took the document from his pocket 
and caught it in a way that indicated how 
easily it might be ripped into halves, the 
halves into quarters, the quarters into in- 
finitesimal squares of meaningless letters. 

^'Once more, shall I, Kate?" 

"No, John. That would only make our 
difficulties greater. But I do ask this one 
favor; put your evidence into the hands 
of a strange attorney, have nothing to do 
with the prosecution; for my sake." 

"I must have the night to think it over. 
44 



THE BEST MAN 

Most of my attacks are not herein writ- 
ten ; I dared keep them only in my head." 

"I am very unhappy," said the girl. 

He took her hand and kissed it rever- 
ently. He longed to console her, but no 
words he had in mind seemed adequate. 

"Fore!" came lazily over the knoll. 
They were no longer alone. So together 
they wandered slowly back to the club- 
house. Tea was being served, and Car- 
rington drank his abstractedly. From 
time to time he joined the conversation, 
but without any heart. Some of the busier 
ladies whispered that it looked this time 
as though Kate had given the young man 
his conge. 

On the way home Norah, with her hu- 
morous comment on the weekly budget 
of gossip, saved the situation from any 
possible contretemps. Mrs. Cavenaugh 
was easy-going, but for all that she pos- 
45 



THE BEST MAN 

scssed remarkably observant eyes ; and her 
eldest daughter was glad that they were 
occupied elsewhere. 

Kate was very unhappy; her father was 
not honest, and the man she loved had 
come into the knowledge of the fact. Ah, 
how quickly shadow can darken sun- 
shine I 

"What did you make it in to-day, Mr. 
Carrington?" asked Norah. 

"Make what?" he counter-questioned 
absently. 

"The course, Mr. Goose! What did 
you think I meant?" 

"Oh," lamely, "I made a bad play at 
the beginning, and gave it up." 

By this time they had arrived at the 
gates, and everybody was thankful; Mrs. 
Cavenaugh, because her nose smarted 
with sunburn; Norah, because the gown 
she was to wear at the dance that night 
46 



THE BEST MAN 

was new ; Kate, because she wanted to be 
alone ; and Carrington, because he wanted 
to learn whether the Angel threw Jacdj 
or Jacob threw the Angel. The driver 
and the horses were glad to arrive because 
they were hungry. 

It took the young lawyer some time to 
dress for dinner that night. His usually 
direct mind vacillated between right and 
wrong, wrong and right; and he floated 
from one to the other like an unattached 
cork. He made a dozen annoying blun- 
ders in dressing. And when finally the 
pier-glass reflected an irreproachable 
and finished picture, he searched his cast- 
off vest for his growing monster and 
transferred it to the pocket of his coat. 
Monster! Here was no story-monster, 
like the creature of a Frankenstein; it 
was genuine, and was like to turn upon 
him at any moment and rend him. He 
47 



THE BEST MAN 

shrugged and proceeded down the stairs. 
There are soliloquies that sometimes leave 
an unpleasant taste behind. So he pinned 
his faith to the banner of the late genial 
and hopeful Micawber: something might 
turn up for the benefit of all concerned. 

The hall and living-room at the Cave- 
naugh manor were one and the same. 
There were bookcases ranging along the 
walls, window-seats, a reading-table and 
an ancient chimney-seat. As Carrington 
turned the first landing he stopped. 

"Father, I think it positively dreadful 
the way you treat poor grandpa." This 
w^as No rah. 

There was a crackle of a newspaper. 

"Never mind, Norah, darling; your 
grandpa is used to it. It doesn't matter 
at all.'» 

It was the sight of the last speaker that 
brought Carrington to a stand. Norah's 
48 



THE BEST MAN 

grandpa was no less a person than the 
shabbily dressed old man he had seen at 
the station that afternoon. What kind of 
family skeleton in the closet was he that 
they kept him en camera? He coughed 
and went on. 

Norah was plucky, whole-hearted, 
frank and encouraging. 

"Mr. Carrington," she said immedi- 
ately, "this is my grandpa." 

Carrington did not hesitate a moment, 
but smiled and thrust out his hand, which 
the other grasped with a questioning air 
of diffidence. 

"Glad to meet you, sir," said Carring- 
ton. 

Cavenaugh fils glanced over the top of 
his paper, scowled, and resumed his read- 
ing. Kate hadn't come down yet, so she 
missed this scene. When she did appear, 
there was no visible sign of any previoiK 
49 



THE BEST MAN 

agitation. She and Norah were thorough- 
breds. 

"Why, grandpa I" she cried, extending 
her hand. 

The old man bowed over it and kissed 
it, and his action was lacking neither in 
grace nor gallantry. 

"I happened to be down this way on 
business," said the old man with a covert 
glance at his son, "and thought I'd drop 
in." 

"Dinner is served," said the splendid 
butler, as he slid back the doors to the 
dining-room. 

The old man looked about him ques- 
tioningly, and Norah slipped her arm 
through his. "You'll have to take me in, 
grandpa," she laughed. 

The old man's eyes shone for a moment, 
and he patted her hand. 

"I'm as proud as a king, Norah.'* 
50 



THE BEST MAN 

Now, Carrington could read between 
* the lines. It was manifestly plain that 
grandpa was not welcome to Cavenaugh. 
But why? Mrs. Cavenaugh scarcely tol- 
erated him. While the girls seldom if 
ever spoke of him, it was evident that both 
held him in their affections. There were 
many strange things going on in the 
Cavenaugh manor; and Carrington en- 
tered the dining-room in a subdued state 
of mind. 

By degrees Norah succeeded in draw- 
ing the pariah out of himself. Carring- 
ton was soon listening to an amazing 
range of adventures. uThe old man had 
seen Cuba in the filibusters' time, he haxi 
fought the Canadian constabulary as a 
Fenian, he had been a sailor, and had 
touched the shores of many strange lands. 
Grandpa Cavenaugh was anything but il- 
literate* Quite often there was a flash of 
51 



THE BEST MAN 

wit, a well-turned phrase, a quotation. 
He had, besides, a comprehensive grasp 
of the politics of all countries. 

Carrington saw at once that his half- 
formed opinion was a house of cards. 
There was no reason in the world why 
they should be ashamed of him, shunt 
him off into the side-track of obscurity, 
and begrudge him a plate at the table. 
Carrington realized that he was very close 
to some peculiar mystery, and that the old 
man's bitterest enemy was his son. 

Throughout the meal the millionaire 
preserved a repelling silence. From time 
to time, when there was laughter, he 
scowled. Once or twice Mrs. Cavenaugl? 
essayed to pass an observation across thi 
table to him, but a curt nod was all she 
received for her pains. Presently Cave- 
naugh dropped his knife on his plate, and 
the pariah retreated meekly into his shell. 
52 



THE BEST MAN 

In fact, he looked frightened, as if the 
thought had come to him that he had 
made an irreparable blunder in warming 
under his grandchildren's smiles. 

"Carrington," said Midas, balling his 
napkin and tossing it on the table, "your 
particular branch is corporation law, isn't 
it?" 

"Yes. The firm has some reputation in 
that branch." Carrington glanced curi- 
ously at his host. What was coming now? 
Was it possible that Cavenaugh had in 
some way learned of his discoveries and 
was about to placate him? 

"I believe you handled successfully the 
D.&M. railroad deal?" 

"We won in three courts." 

"Well," continued Cavenaugh, "IVe 

been thinking of you to-day. The P. & O. 

counsel has had to give up on account of 

poor health, and Matthewson spoke to 

53 



THE BEST MAN 

me yesterday, asking if I knew a man 
who could fill his place. It pays seven- 
teen thousand the year." He paused as if 
to let this magnificent salary sink into the 
deepest crevice of Carrington's soul. 
"What would you say to a permanent 
berth like that?" Cavenaugh positively 
beamed. 

Kate stared at her father in astonish- 
ment. Was it possible that he was begin- 
ning to look favorably upon Carrington? 
Her glance traveled to Carrington. His 
expression she found puzzling. 

"Seventeen thousand!" murmured the 
pariah, rubbing his hands, while his eyes 
sparkled. 

Carrington deliberated for a space. 
He was hard put. He did not want to 
refuse this peace-ofifering, but nothing 
would make him accept it. 

"This is very fine of you. iTwo years 
54 



THE BEST MAN 

ago I should have jumped at the chance. 
But my agreement with my partner makes 
it impossible. I can not honestly break 
my contract within five years." He 
waited for the storm to burst, for Cave- 
naugh was not a patient man. 

"Are you mad?" whispered Kate. A 
flush of anger swept over her at the 
thought of Carrington's lightly casting 
aside this evident olive-branch. 

"Would you have me accept it?" he re- 
turned, in a whisper lower than hers. 

She paled. "I had forgotten," she said, 
with the pain of quick recollection. 

The dinner came to its end, and every- 
body rose gratefully, for there seemed to 
be something tense in the air. 

"Seventeen thousand honest dollars!" 
murmured the pariah, tagging along at 
the millionaire's heels. 

Carrington threw him a swift penetrat- 
55 



THE BEST MAN 

ing glance ; but the old man was looking 
ecstatically at the tinted angels on the ceil- 
ing. The old man might be perfectly 
guileless; but Carrington scented the 
faintly bitter aroma of irony. 

Just before the carriage arrived to con- 
vey Carrington and the ladies to the club 
dance, grandpa appeared, hat in hand and 
a humble smile on his face. It was a very 
attractive face, weather-beaten though it 
was, penciled by the ^nset of seventy 
years. 

"You are not going, a»c you, grandpa?" 
asked Norah. 

"Yes, my child. I shi>«ld be very lone- 
some here alone with your estimable fa- 
ther. I'll drop in to-morrow for Sunday 
dinner; that is, if you are not going to 
have company. I am glad that I met you, 
Mr. Carrington." 

"Poor old grandpat** sighed NoraK, 
56 



THE BEST MAN. 

when the door closed upon him. "He has 
the ridiculous idea that he isn't wanted." 

Nobody pursued the subject and NoraK 
began to preen herself. 

An idea came to Carrington. He 
wanted to be rid of his document He 
spoke to Kate, who nodded comprehen- 
sively. She led him into the dining-room. 
In one corner, protected by a low screen, 
was a small safe. This she threw open, 
and Carrington put the envelope into one 
of the pigeon-holes. The safe was abso- 
lutely empty, a fact which puzzled him 
not a little. 

"We seldom use this," said the girl, 
reading the vague unspoken question in 
his eyes. "The jewel safe is up-stairs ini 
my room." 

"It doesn't matter in the least," he re- 
plied, smiling, "so long as I may safely 
rid myself of these obnoxious papers. 
57 



THE BEST MAN 

'And if you do not mind, I'll leave them 
there till Monday morning. I've tliought 
it all out, Kate. A man's only human, 
after all. I could never prosecute the case 
myself; I'd be thinking of you and the 
bread I have eaten. I'll turn the matter 
over to Challoner, and let him do as he 
thinks best. Of course, I shall be called 
as a witness when the case comes up in 
court, if it ever does." 

She did not reply, but shut the door of 
the safe and rose from her knees. 

.The south side of the dining-room was 
made up of long colonial windows that 
opened directly upon the lawn. They 
were more like doors than windows. She 
locked each one carefully and drew the 
curtain. 

"Norah is probably growing impatient 
'for us," she said. 

With an indescribable impulse he sud- 
58 



The best man 

'denly drew her into his arms and kissed 
her. It might be the last he could ever 
claim. 

"John!" she murmured, gently disen- 
gaging herself. 

"I love you," he said, "and I could not 
help it. Everything looks so dark." 

The clock in the hall chimed the quar- 
ter hour after eleven. Cavenaugh was in 
his den. 'His desk was littered with sheets 
of paper, upon which were formidable 
columns of figures and dollar signs. He 
sat back in his chair and listened. He 
thought he heard a door or window close ; 
he wasn't certain. It was probably one of 
the servants. He bit off the end of a fresh 
cigar and resumed his work. Let the 
young people play golf, if they wanted to, 
and dance and frivol away the precious 
hours ; they would never know the joy of 
59 



THE BEST MAN 

seeing one become two, two become four, 
and so on, till the adding grew into the 
ransoms of many kings. Ay, this was to 
Kve. Oh, the beautiful numerals! Bri- 
gade after brigade, corps after corps, they 
marched at a sign from him; an army 
greater than that of kings. To sit in a lit- 
tle room, as in a puppet-booth, and juggle 
the policies of the nations! Yes, Kate 
should have a duke and Norah a prince; 
he would show them all some day. Recol- 
lecting Carrington, he frowned. Did the 
fellow know anything, that he felt the 
power to refuse an offer such as he had 
made at the dinner-table? Bah! It would 
be like crushing some insect. He deter- 
mined that this should be Carrington's 
'last visit. His pen moved once more, and 
presently he became lost in his dreams 
of calculation. 

But Cavenaugh*s ears had not deceiveH 
60 



TUE BEST MAN 

him, however, for he had heard the sound 
of a closing window. A window had been 
closed, but none of the servants had been 
at hand. 

At precisely eleven a man came swiftly 
but cautiously across the lawn. When he 
reached the long windows of the dining- 
room he paused, but not irresolutely. 
There was a sharp rasping sound, fol- 
lowed by the uncertain glare that makes 
the light of a dark-lantern separate and 
individual, and a window swung noise- 
lessly inward. The room was in total 
darkness. The man wore a short mask, a 
soft felt hat well down over his eyes. He 
cupped his hand to his ear and strained 
to catch any sound. Silence. Then he 
dropped behind the screen, consulted a 
slip of paper by the light of his lantern, 
and with a few quick turns of the combi- 
natic^-knob opened the door of the safe. 
6i 



THE BEST MAN 

He extracted the envelope and thrust it 
into his pocket, without so much as a 
glance at its contents. In making his exit, 
the window stuck on the sill. In pressing 
it the lock snapped loudly. This was the 
sound Cavenaugh heard. The burglar ran 
lightly across the lawn and disappeared 
beyond the hedges. And none too soon. 

The Cavenaugh drag rolled over the 
hill and went clattering up to the porte- 
cochere. 

On the way home Carrington, his mind 
still wavering between this expedient and 
that, decided that, after all, he would take 
charge of the papers himself. It didn't 
seem quite fair that Cavenaugh's safe 
should protect his ultimate disgrace. So, 
upon entering the house, he confided his 
desire to Kate, who threw aside her wraps 
and led him into the dining-room. She 
had her own reasons for wishing the pa- 
62 



J'HE BEST MAN 

pers out of the safe. She turnecl on the 
lights and swirled the combination-knob. 
At this moment Norah came in. 

"What are you doing?" she asked. 

"Mr. Carrington left some valuable pa- 
pers in the safe, and he wants them." 

Carrington wondered why Norah 
gazed from him to her sister with so wild 
an expression. 

"Papers?" she murmured. 

Kate opened the door. She sprang to 
her feet in terror and dismay. 

"What is it?" cried Carrington, who 
saw by her expression that something ex- 
traordinary had happened. 

"They . . . it is not there!" 

Norah sat down and hid her face on 
her arms. 

Carrington rushed over to the safe, 
stooped and made a hasty examination. 
It had been opened by some one who 
63 



THE BEST MAN 

knew the combination! He stood up, a 
cold chill wrinkling his spine. He saw 
it all distinctly. Cavenaugh knew. He 
had known all along. Cavenaugh had 
overheard him speak to Kate, and had 
.opened the safe after their departure for 
the club. It was all very cleverly done. 
He knew that Kate was utterly blameless. 
Then it dawned upon him that they ap- 
peared as though they accepted the catas- 
trophe as not wholly unexpected! To 
what did this labyrinth lead? 

!A! rattle of the curtain-rings wheeled 
them about. They beheld Cavenaugh 
himself standing in the doorway. 

"What's the trouble?" he asked, eying 
Carrington suspiciously. 

Carrington answered him icily. "I left 
some legal c^ocuments of great value in 
this safe ; they are no longer there." 

Cavenaugh's jaw dropped. He stared 
64 



tTHE BEST MAN 

at Kate, then at Norah. If ever there was 
written on a face unfeigned dismay and 
astonishment, it was on the millionaire's. 
A moment before Carrington would have 
sworn that he was guilty; now he knew 
not what to believe. He grew bewildered. 
There had certainly been a burglar; but 
who was he? 

"Mr. Carrington," said Cavenaugh, 
pulling himself together with an effort, 
"you need have no worry whatever. I 
will undertake to restore your documents. 
I offer you no explanations." He left 
them abruptly. 

The young lawyer concluded to grope 
no longer. Somebody else would have to 
lead him out of this labyrinthine maze. 
All at once there came to him a sense of 
infinite relief. Providence had kindly 
taken the matter out of his hands. 

"Never mind, Kate," he said. "For my 

65 



THE BEST MAN 

part, I should be entirely satisfied if I 
never saw the miserable thing again." 

"Father will find it for you." Her eyes 
were dim with tears of shame. 

"What is it, girl?" 

"Nothing that I can explain to you, 
John. Good night." 

When he had gone to his room, Norah 
turned to her sister and sobbed on her 
breast. 

"Oh, Kate!" 

"What is the matter, child?" 

"I told grandpa the combination l" 



66 



Ill 

CARRINGTON tumbled out of 
bed at six and threw out the old- 
fashioned green blinds. A warm, 
golden summer morning greeted his eyes, 
and the peaceful calm of Sunday lay upon 
the land. A robin piped in an apple-tree, 
an oriole flashed across the flower-beds, 
and a bee buzzed just outside the sill. A 
brave day! He stepped into his tub, 
bathed, and dressed in his riding-clothes, 
for there was to be a canter down to the 
sea and return before breakfast. From 
the window he could see the groom walk- 
ing the beautiful thoroughbreds up anci 
down the driveway. There were only two 
this morning; evidently Norah was not 
going. 

67 



THE BEST MAN 

The Cavenaugh girls had created al- 
most a scandal and a revolution when 
they first appeared at Glenwood. People 
had read and talked about women riding 
like men, they had even seen pictures of 
them, but to find them close at hand was 
something of a shock. Yet, when they 
saw with what ease the Cavenaugh girls 
took the hedges, ditches and fences, how 
their mounts never suffered from saddle- 
galls, and, above all, how the two always 
kept even pace with the best men riders, 
opinion veered; and several ladies 
changed their habits. 

Norah, who saw the droll side of things, 
once said that the accepted riding habit 
for women reminded her of a kimono for 
a harp. 

Carrington stole gently down to the 
horses. He had great affection for the 
sleek thoroughbreds. Their ears went 
68 



THE BEST MAN 

forward when they saw him, and they 
whinnied softly. He rubbed their velvet 
noses and in turn they nozzled him for 
sugar-loaves. Had it not been for the 
night and the attendant mysteries, his hap- 
piness would have been complete. People 
waste many precious moments in useless 
retrospection; so Carrington resolutely 
forced the subject from his mind. One 
thing vv^as certain, the Cavenaughs knew 
who the burglar was ; and there was some- 
thing strange in the idea of an empty safe 
in a millionaire's home. Pshaw! He took 
out the expected sugar-loaves and ex- 
tended them on both palms. The pair 
lipped his hand and crunched the sweets 
with evident relish. 

"How are the> to-day, James?" 
"Fit for twenty miles, straight away or 
'cross-lots, sir. Your mount is feeling his 
oats this morning; he hasn't been out for 
69 



THE BEST MAN 

a run since Thursday, sir. I've put the 
curb on him in case he takes it into his 
head to cut up shines. Here comes Miss 
Kate, sir." 

Carrington's pulse rose. Kate was ap- 
proaching them. She was pale but serene. 
She smiled a good morning, which took 
in the gentleman and the groom. 

"I hope I haven't kept you waiting." 

"Not a moment; I only just got down 
myself," said Carrington. 

She mounted without assistance and ad- 
justed her skirts. The filly began to waltz, 
impatient to be off. 

"To the beach?" Carrington asked, 
swinging into his saddle. 

She nodded, and they started off to- 
ward the highway at a Smart trot. Once 
there, the animals broke into an easy can- 
ter, which they maintained for a mile or 
more. Then Kate drew down to a walk. 
70 



a*HE BEST MAN. 

"What a day !" said he, waving his hand 
toward the sea-line. 

There was color a-plenty on her cheeks 
now, and her eyes shone like precious 
stones. There is no exhilaration quite like 
it. She flicked the elders with her crop, 
and once or twice reached up for a ripen- 
ing apple. In the air there was the strange 
sea-smell, mingled with the warm scent of 
clover. 

"I'll race you to the beach!" she cried 
suddenly. 

"Done! I'll give you to the sixth tree." 
He laughed. There was really nothing at 
all in the world but this beautiful girl, 
the horses, and the white road that wound 
in and out to the sea. 

She trotted her mount to the sixth tree, 

turned, and then gave the signal. Away 

they went, the horses every bit as eager as 

their riders. With their ears laid back, 

71 



THE BEST MAN 

their nostrils wide, their feet drumming, 
they thundered down the road. Carring- 
ton gained, but slowly, and he had to hold 
his right arm as a shield for his eyes, as 
the filly's heels threw back a steady rain 
of sand and gravel. Faster and faster; a 
milk-wagon veered out just in time; fool- 
ish chickens scampered to the wrong side 
of the road, and the stray pigs in the or- 
chards squealed and bolted inland. It was 
all very fine. And when they struck deep 
tawny sand the animals were neck and 
neck. It was now no easy task to bring 
them to a stop. Carrington's hunter had 
made up his mind to win, and the lithe 
filly was equally determined. As an ex- 
pedient, they finally guided the animals 
toward the hull of an ancient wreck; 
nothing else would have stopped them. 

"How I love it!" said Kate breathlessly, 
as she slid from the saddle. "Beauty, you 
72 



THE BEST MAN 

beat him, didn't you!" patting the drip- 
ping neck of her favorite. 

They tethered the horses presently, and 
sat down in the shade of the hull. 

"Nothing like it, is there, girl?" 

"I hate automobiles," she answered ir- 
relevantly. 

The old, old sea quarreled murmur- 
ously at their feet, and the white gulls 
sailed hither and thither, sometimes 
breasting the rollers just as they were 
about to topple over into running creamy 
foam. The man and the girl seemed per- 
fectly content to remain voiceless. There 
was no sound but the song of the sea : the 
girl dreamed, and the man wondered 
what her dream was. Presently he 
glanced at his watch. He stood up, brush- 
ing the sand from his clothes. 

"Half an hour between us and break- 
fast, Kate. All aboard!" 
73 



THE BEST MAN 

The night before might have been only 
an idle dream. 

So they took the road back. Only the 
sea and the gulls saw the tender kiss. 

The pariah sauntered in at two o'clock 
that afternoon, just as the family were 
sitting down to luncheon. He was a rev- 
elation. There was nothing shabby about 
him now. He wore a new suit, spats, a 
new straw hat, and twirled a light bam- 
boo. There was something jaunty and 
confident in his air, a bubbling in his eyes ; 
altogether, he was in fine fettle about 
something. He cast aside his hat and cane 
with a flourish. 

"Aha! just in time," he said. "Another 
chair, William." 

The butler sent a dubious glance at his 
master; there was the usual curt nod and 
the frown. So grandpa sat down beside 
74 



THE BEST MAN 

Norah, whose usual effervescence had 
strangely subsided; he pinched her cheek, 
and deliberated between the cold ham and 
chicken. 

"A fine day! A beautiful day! A day 
of days!" he cried, surrendering to the 
appetitious lure of both meats. 

Nobody replied to this outburst of ex- 
uberance; nobody had the power to. A 
strange calm settled over every one. This 
was altogether a new kind of grandpa. 
There was nothing timid or hesitant here, 
nothing meek and humble; neither was 
there that insufferable self-assurance and 
arrogance of a disagreeable man. Grand- 
pa's attitude was simply that of an equal, 
of a man of the world, of one who is con- 
fident of the power he holds in reserve; 
that was all. But for all that, he was a sen- 
sation of some magnitude. Carrington 
was seized with a wild desire to laugh. 

n 



THE BEST MAN 

The truth came to him like an illumina- 
tion; but he wisely held his peace. 

"There is something in the air to-day 
that renews youth in old age; eh, my 
son?" with a sly wink at Cavenaugh. 

Cavenaugh's expression of wonder be- 
gan to freeze and remained frozen to the 
end of the meal. So all the honors of con- 
versation fell to grandpa, who seemed to 
relish this new privilege. 

"Father," said Cavenaugh, holding 
back his accumulated wrath, "I want to 
see you in my study." 

"Immediately, my son. I was just about 
to make that same request." Grandpa 
looked at Kate, then at Carrington. "I 
suppose you young persons will invite 
poor old grandpa to the wedding?" 

"Father!" This was altogether too 
much for patrician blood. Cavenaugh's 
face reddened and his fists closed omi- 
76 



THE BEST MAN 

nously. "You will do me the honor, fa- 
ther, not to meddle with my private 
affairs. Kate is my daughter, and she shall 
marry the man it pleases me to accept." 

Carrington felt this cut dart over 
grandpa's shoulder. He stirred uneasily. 

"Oh, if that's the way you look at it I" 
with a comical deprecatory shrug. 
Grandpa touched Carrington on the arm. 
"Young man, do you love this girl? No 
false modesty, now; the truth, and noth- 
ing but the truth. Do you love her?'* 

"With all my heart!" Carrington felt 
the impulse occult. Something whispered 
that his whole future depended upon his 
answer. 

"And you, Kate?" 

"I love him, grandpa," bravely. 

"That's all I want to know," said 
grandpa. 

Cavenaugh released one of his fists; it 

n 



THE BEST MAN 

fell upon the table and rattled things gen- 
erally. 

"Am I in my own house?" he bawled. 

"That depends," answered grandpa 
suavely. "You've got to behave yourself. 
Now, then, let us repair to the secret 
chamber of finance. It is the day of set- 
tlement," grimly. 

Mrs. Cavenaugh was gently weeping. 
The dread moment had come, come when 
she had been lulled into the belief that it 
would never come. Kate understood, and 
longed to go to her and comfort her; and 
she trembled for her father, who knew 
nothing of the pit that lay at his feet. 
Carrington dallied with his fork; he 
wished he was anywhere in the world but 
at the Cavenaugh table. The desire to 
laugh recurred to him, but he realized 
that the inclination was only hysterical. 

Cavenaugh was already heading for the 
78 



THE BEST MAN 

Study. He was in a fine rage. Grandpa 
was close on his heels. At the threshold 
he turned once more to Carrington. 

"You know your Tempest, young man, 
I'm sure," he said. "Well, this is the 
revolt of Caliban — Caliban uplifted, as it 
were." 

The door closed behind them, and fa- 
ther and son faced each other. 

"I'll trouble you for those papers you 
took from the safe last night," said the 
son heavily. 

"Ah, indeed!" said grandpa. 

"At once ; I have reached the limit of 
my patience." 

"So have I," returned grandpa. "Per- 
haps you know what these papers are 
about?" 

"I know nothing whatever, save that 
they belong to Mr. Carrington. Hand 
them over." 

79 



THE BEST MAN 

Grandpa helped himself to a cigar and 
sat down. He puffed two or three times, 
eyed the lighted end, and sighed with 
satisfaction. 

"If you but knew what they were about, 
these papers, you would pay a cool mil- 
lion for their possession. My word, it is 
a droll situation ; reads like the fourth act 
in a play. If you have a duke picked out 
for Kate, forget him." 

"She will never marry Carringtonl" 
Cavenaugh's voice rose in spite of his ef- 
fort to control it. 

"My son, they will hear you," the pa- 
riah warned. He blew a cloud of smoke 
into the air and sniffed it. "You never 
offered me this particular brand," re- 
proachfully. 

"Enjoy it," snapped the other, "for it is 
the last you will ever smoke in any house 
of mine." 

80 



THE BEST MAN 

*Tou don't tell me!" 

"Those papers, instantly!" 

" *Be it known by these presents, et 
cetera, et cetera,' " said the old man. He 
rose suddenly, the banter leaving his lips 
and eyes, and his jaw setting hard. "You 
had better get your check-book handy, 
my son, for when I'm through with you, 
you'll be only too glad to fill out a blank 
for fifty thousand. I consider myself 
quite moderate. This young Carrington 
is a mighty shrewd fellow; and I'd rather 
have him as a friend than an enemy. He 
has made out his case so strongly that it 
will cost you a pretty penny to escape with 
a whole skin." 

"What arc you talking about?" 

"The case of the people versus Cave- 

nutigh et al. It concerns the clever way 

in which you and your partners slid un- 

ifer Ac seven per cent, dividend due your 

8i 



THE BEST MAN 

investors; which caused a slump in the 
price of the shares, forcing thousands to 
sell their stock; which you bought back 
at a handsome profit. Moloch I The mil- 
lions you have are not enough ; you must 
have more. There are about twelve of 
you in all, not one of you worth less than 
three millions. What a beautiful chance 
for blackmail!" 

Cavenaugh stepped back, and his legs, 
striking a chair, toppled him into it. His 
father had become Medusa's head! 

"Aha! That jars you some," chuckled 
grandpa. 

It took Cavenaugh some time to recover 
his voice, and when he did it was faint 
and unnatural. 

"Is this true?" he gasped. 

"It is so true that I'll trouble yo» for 
the check now." 

"Come, father, this is no time for non- 
82 



THE BEST MAN 

sense.** Cavenaugh waved his hand im- 
patiently. "Let me see the document." 

"Hardly. But the moment you place 
the check in my hands, I shall be pleased 
to do so. But there must be no reserva- 
tion to have payment stopped." 

"I will not give you a single penny!" 
The mere suggestion of giving up so 
large a sum without a struggle seemed 
preposterous. "Not a penny! And fur- 
thermore, I am through with you for 
good and all. Shift for yourself here- 
after. Fifty thousand! You make me 
laugh!" 

"I shall make you laugh, my son; but 
not on the humorous side." The old man 
reached out his hand and struck the bell. 

"What do you want?" asked Cave- 
naugh, mystified. 

"I want the author of the document. I 
propose to take the family skeleton out of 

83 



THE BEST MAK 

the closet and dangle it up and down be- 
fore the young man's eyes. You will 
laugh, I dare say." 

Cavenaugh fell back in his chair again. 
The door opened and William looked in. 

"You rang, sir?" to Cavenaugh fils. 

"No, William," said Cavenaugh pere 
affably; "I rang. Call Mr. Carrington." 
The butler disappeared. "It is my turn, 
Henry, and I have waited a long time, as 
you very well know. Hal Sit down, Mr. 
Carrington, sit down." 

Carrington, who had entered, obeyed 
readily. 

"You left some papers in the dining- 
room safe last night," began grandpa. 

"I was about to ask you to return them," 
replied Carrington, with assumed pleas- 
antry. 

The two Cavenaughs looked at each 
other blankly. Finally grandpa laughed. 
84 



.^-■' 



THE BEST MAN 

"I told you he was clever!" 

"It is true, then," snarled the million- 
aire, "that you have been meddling with 
affairs that in no wise concern you. I 
warn you that your case in court will not 
have a leg to stand on." 

"I prefer not to discuss the merits of the 
case," said Carrington quietly. 

"I have been your host, sir; you have 
eaten at my table." Cavenaugh, as he 
spoke, was not without a certain dignity. 

"All of which, recognizing the present 
situation, I profoundly regret." 

"Good!" said grandpa. "Henry, if you 
had been the general they give you credit 
for, you would have offered Mr. Carring- 
ton that seventeen thousand two or three 
years ago. There is nothing so menacing 
to dishonesty as the free lance. Now, lis- 
ten to me for a space. We'll come to the 
documentary evidence all in good time. 
85 



THE BEST MAN 

I spoke of Caliban uplifted," ironically. 
"For years I have been treated as a pa- 
riah, as a beast of burden, as a messenger 
boy, as a go-between to take tricks that 
might have soiled my son's delicate hands. 
Father and son, yes; but in name only. 
Blood is thicker than water only when 
riches and ambition are not touched in 
the quick. This dutiful son of mine could 
easily have elevated me along with him- 
self; but he would not do so. He was 
afraid that people might learn something 
of my past, which would greatly hinder 
his advancement. He prospered, he grew 
rich and arrogant; he put his heel on my 
neck, and I dared not revolt. You 
wouldn't believe it, would you, Mr. Car- 
rington, that I was graduated with hon- 
ors from Oxford University. I speak 
three tongues fluently, and have a smat- 
tering of a dozen others ; am a doctor of 
86 



THE BEST MAN 

philosophy, an Egyptologist. But I was 
indolent and loved good times, and so, you 
see, it came about that I fell into evil 
ways. Formerly, I was a burglar by pro- 
fession." 

He stopped, eying Carrington's stupe- 
faction. The son gnawed his lips impo- 
tently. 

"I was a master, after a fashion," re- 
sumed the old man, satisfied with his 
denouement. "I committed a dozen splen- 
did burglaries. I never left a trail be- 
hind. The police sought for me, but did 
»ot know me either by name or by sight. 
This was the sword my son kept over my 
neck. The slightest rebellion, and he 
threatened to expose me. Oh, I know the 
boy well enough ; he would have done it 
in those days. Once extradited to Eng- 
land, thirty years ago, no one would have 
connected our names. Yet he was afraid 

87 



tTHB SBSr MAK 

df me ; he wasn't sure that at any time ifie 
old desire would spring up renewed. I 
robbed to gratify my craving for excite- 
ment rather than to fill my purse. I made 
an unhappy marriage; something Kate 
nor Norah shall do while I live. Henry 
was clever. He made me an allowance of 
two hundred a month. And how do yon 
suppose he arranged the payment? On 
the first day of the month he placed the 
cash in a safe in the house, and changed 
the combination. If I got the money with- 
out being caught it was mine; otherwise 
I went hungry. Ingenious idea, wasn't 
it? For I had all the excitement, and none 
of the peril of a real burglary. Henry 
forgot, yesterday, that it was the first of 
the month." 

The millionaire found it impossible to 
remain seated. He rose and paced the 
floor, his brows knit, his hands clenched. 
88 



THE BEST MAJC 

He was at bay. Carrington felt as if he 
were in the midst of some mad dream* 

"Sometimes I succeeded in opening 
the safe ; and sometimes, when luck went 
against me for two or three montht, 
Norah tipped me the combination. She 
dared not do it too often. So the months 
went on. Once a month I was permitted 
to visit my grandchildren. My son grew 
richer and richer; for myself, I re- 
mained in the valley of humiliation. I 
had no chance. I had never met any of 
my son's friends; he took good care that 
I did not; so they were in total darkness 
as to my existence. But the ball and chaia 
were knocked off last night. Your papers 
are, after all, only an incident. CalibMi 
revolts. Mr. Carrington, my son! Oh, I 
am proud of him. I believed the genius 
for robbery was mine. I am a veritable 
tyro beside Henry. Half a dozea mM- 
89 



THE BEST MAN 

lions from the pockets of the poor at one 
fell swoop! Where's your Robin Hood 
and his ilk? But it isn't called robbery; it 
k called high finance." 

He applied a match to his dead cigar 
and thoughtfully eyed his son. 

"And there is a good joke on me, weav- 
ing in and out of all this. I regularly in- 
vested half my allowance in buying 
shares in my son's company, to insure my 
©Id age. It jarred me when I read the 
truth last night. I hate to be outwitted. 
Henry, sit down; you make me nervous." 

"Well, what are you going to do?" 
asked the son. As he faced his father 
there was something lion-like in his ex- 
pression. 

"Sit down, my son, and I will tell you," 

answered the old man quietly. He knew 

that his son was a fighter, and that to win 

he would have to strike quick and hard. 
90 



THE BEST MAN 

Cavenaugh flung himself into his chair. 
At that moment he did not know which 
he hated the most, his father or Carring- 
ton. 

"First, you will write out that check 
for fifty thousand." 

"Blackmail!" 

"Nothing of the sort. For twenty years 
you have kept your heel on my neck. I 
could do nothing; opportunities came 
and I dared not grasp them ; my genuine 
ability was allowed to rust. It is simply 
compensation. Blackmail? I think not. 
I could easily force a million from you. 
But I am and have been for years an 
honest man. And heaven knows how well 
I have paid for my early transgression," 
bitterly. "This hour is mine, and I pro- 
pose to use it." 

"What guaranty have I of your good 
faith?" fiercely. 

91 



THE BEST MAIf 

"My word," calmly. "I have never yet 
broken it." 

Carrington gazed longingly toward the 
door. It W2is horribly embarrassing. He 
began to realize that Kate's father would 
hate him bitterly indeed, and that his own 
happiness looked very remote. 

Cavenaugh turned to his desk, filled 
out the blank, and passed it to his father,, 
who, with scarcely a glance at it, passed it 
back with a negative shake of the head. 

"The official certifying stamp lies on 
your desk ; use it." 

There was no getting around this keen- 
eyed old man. He knew every point in 
the game. 

"You will live to regret this," said 
Cavenaugh, his eyes sparkling with' 
venom. 

"I have many things to regret; prin- 
cipally that fa^e made me a father." The 
92 



THE BEST MAN 

old man passed the check over to Cat- 
rington. "You're a lawyer; does that look 
legal to you?" 

Carrington signified that it did. 

"Now, then, Henry, you will write 
down on official paper your resignation 
as president and director of the General 
Trust Company of America. You will 
give orders for the restitution of the mil- 
lions that were fraudulently added to 
your capital. I am not the least interested 
in what manner the restitutions are made, 
so long as they are made. I am now rep- 
resenting the investors. As for your part- 
ners, it will be easy for you to impress 
them with the necessity of the action." 

"And if I refuse?" 

"Notliing less than the attorney-gen- 
eral. I intend to make this business a« 
complete as possible." 

Cavenaugh turned again to his desL 
93 



tTHE BEST MAN 

He knew his father even as his father 
knew him. He wrote hurriedly, the pen 
sputtering angrily. 

"What else?" with a cold fury. 

Again the old man gave Carrington 
the paper. 

"It is perfectly intelligible," he said. 
He began to feel a bit sorry for Cave- 
naugh junior, 

"Nov/, those papers," said Cavenaugh 
jharply. 

"I believe they belong to me," inter- 
posed Carrington. 

Grandpa smiled. "It all depends." 

"I could easily force you," suggest- 
ively. 

Grandpa smiled again. "Of that I 
haven't the least doubt. Of course, what 
I have is only a copy?" 

"It is the only copy in existence," re- 
plied Carrington anxiously. And then a 
94 



(THE BEST MAN 

flush of shame mantled his cheeks. 
Where was his legal cunning? 

"Ah!" The ejaculation came from 
Cavenaugh junior. 

"There is but one thing more," said 
grandpa urbanely. "I am determined 
that Kate shall be happy. She shall mar- 
ry Mr. Carrington before the snow flies. 
It is an excellent policy to keep valuable 
secrets in the family." 

"Give your papers to the attorney- 
general. I'll see you all hanged before 
I'll give my consent!" Cavenaugh roared 
out these words. His patience had truly 
reached the limit of endurance. 

"Softly, softly!" murmured grandpa. 

"I mean it!" con agitata. 

"Ah, well ; what will be, will be. Son, 
I came down here yesterday with alto- 
gether a different piece of business iji 
mind. The documents I discovered la«t 
95 



THE BEST MAN 

■ight changed these plans. You own 
rich oil lands in Texas; or, rather, you 
did own them before you sold out to the 
company. The land you sold was not, 
and never had been, legally yours; you 
owned not a single tuft of grass. Govern- 
ment land-grab, I believe they call it. It 
is not now a question of refunding money; 
it is a question of avoiding prison. The 
supreme court at Washington can not be, 
purchased. It cost me five hundred, 
which I could ill afford, to get a copy of 
the original transfer. The real owner mis- 
took me for you, son; that is how I 
learned. Your consent to this marriage; 
or, my word for it, I'll put you where you 
would have put me, had you dared. 
Quick! My patience is quite as tense as 
yours." 

The collapse of Cavenaugh waa total. 
He saw the futility of further itrugglc. 
96 



THE BEST MAN 

Ah! and he had believed all these trans- 
gressions securely hidden and forgotten, 
that the fortress of his millions would 
protect him from all attack. Too late he 
realized that he had gone too far with 
his father. There was no mercy in the old 
man's eyes, and Cavenaugh knew in his 
heart that he deserved none. 

'*Very sensible," said the retired bur- 
glar. He folded the check and put it in 
his wallet, while his son covered his face 
with his hands. "Murder will out, 2ven 
among the most pious. I know that what 
has passed between us w411 be forgotten 
hj Mr. Carrington. For myself, I shall 
return to England. I have always had a 
horror of dying in this country. Like 
father, like son; the parable reads truly. 
It was in the blood, Mr. Carrington; it 
was in the blood. But Henry here went 
aboat it in a more genteel manner." He 
97 



THE BEST MAN 

Struck the bell. "William, send Miss 
Kate here." 

William bowed. He recognized the 
change ; grandpa's voice was full of con- 
fident authority. 

Kate entered the study shortly after. 
She had been weeping; her eyes were red. 
Seeing her father's bowed head, she 
sprang to his side like a lioness. 

"What have they been doing to you, 
father?" 

"Nothing but what is just," softly an- 
swered her parent. The little dukes and 
princes faded away as a dream fades. 

"Grandpa ..." she began. 

"Child, it is all settled. The hatchet is 
buried in frozen ground. Your father 
consents to your marriage with Mr. Car- 
rington. It has been a heated argument, 
but he has come around to my way of 
thinking. 'All's right with the world,' as 
98 



THE BEST MAN 

Browning says. Bless you, my children, 
bless you !" with tender irony. 

"And now, my papers," said Carring- 
ton, smiling up at the girl reassuringly. 

"And you still wish to marry me?" 
asked the girl, her face burning and her 
eyes moist. 

"I'd marry you if your grandpa was 
Beelzebub himself !" 

"Here's your papers, young man," said 
grandpa. He passed the envelope across 
the table. 

"What's this?" cried Carrington. 

"It means, my boy," said grandpa, 
"that blood is thicker than water, and 
that I really intended no harm to Henry. 
And then, besides, I like to win when all 
the odds are against me." 

Carrington gently turned the envelope 
upside do\^Ti. Nothing but burnt paper 
fluttered upon the table. 
99 



To begin with, I am going to call 
things by their real names. At 
first glance this statement will 
give you a shiver of terror, that is, if you 
happen to be a maiden lady or a gentle- 
man with reversible cufifs. But your shiv- 
ers will be without reason. Prue may 
read, and modest Prue's mama ; for it isn't 
going to be a naughty story; on the con- 
trary, grandma's spring medicines are 
less harmless. Yet there is a parable to 
expound and a moral to point out; but I 

TOO 



TWO CANDIDATES 

shall leave these to your own discera- 
ment 

It has always appealed to me as rather 
a silly custom on a story-teller's part to 
invent names for the two great political 
parties of the United States ; and for my 
part, I am going to call a Democrat a 
Democrat and a Republican a Repub- 
lican, because these titles are not so hal- 
lowed in our time as to be disguised in 
print and uttered in a bated breath. 
There is fortunately no lese-majeste in 
America. 

Men inclined toward the evil side of 
power will be found in all parties, and 
always have been. Unlike society, the 
middle class in politics usually contains 
all the evil elements. In politics the citi- 
zen becomes the lowest order, and the 
statesman the highest; and, thanks to the 
common sense of the race, these are large- 

lOI 



THE BEST MAN 

ly honest and incorruptible. When these 
become disintegrated, a republic falls. 

Being a journalist and a philosopher, I 
look upon both parties with tolerant con- 
tempt. The very nearness of some things 
disillusions us; and I have found that 
only one illusion remains to the newspa- 
per man, and that is that some day he'll 
get out of the newspaper business. I vote 
as I please, though the family does not 
know this. The mother is a Republican 
and 80 is the grandmother; and, loving 
peace in the house, I dub myself a Repub- 
lican till that moment when I enter the 
voting-booth. Then I become an indi- 
vidual who votes as his common-sense 
"directs. 

The influence of woman in politics is 
no inconsiderable matter. The great 
statesman may flatter himself that his 
greatness is due to his oratorical powers ; 

102 



TWO CANDIDATES 

but feis destiny is often decided at the 
breakfast-table. Why four-fifths of the 
women lean toward Republicanism is 
something no mere historian can analyze. 

In my town politics had an evil odor. 
For six years a Democrat had been mayor, 
and for six years the town had been plun- 
dered. For six years the Republicans had 
striven, with might and main, to regain 
the power . . . and the right to 
plunder. It did not matter which party 
ruled, graft (let us omit the quotation 
marks) was the tocsin. The citizens were 
robbed, openly or covertly, according to 
the policy of the party in office. There 
was no independent paper in town; so, 
from one month's end to another it was 
leaded editorial vituperation. Then Cali- 
Ban revolted. An independent party was 
about to be formed. 

The two bosses, however, were equal to 
103 



THE BEST MAN 

the occasion. They immediately hustled 
around and secured as candidates for the 
mayoralty two prominent young men 
whose honesty and integrity were unim- 
peachable. Caliban, as is his habit, 
sheathed his sword and went back to his 
bench, his desk, or whatever his occupa- 
tion was. 

On the Republican side they nominated 
a rich young club-man. Now, as you will 
readily agree, it is always written large 
on the political banner that a man who is 
rich has no incentive to become a grafter. 
The public is ever willing to trust its 
funds to a millionaire. The Democrats, 
with equal cunning, brought forward a 
brilliant young attorney, whose income 
was rather moderate but whose ability 
and promise were great. The Democratic 
organs hailed his nomination with de- 
light. 

104 



TWO CANDIDATES 

"We want one of the people to repre- 
sent us, not one of the privileged class." 
You see, there happened to be no rich 
young Democrat available. 

These two candidates were close per- 
sonal friends. They had been chums from 
boyhood and had been graduated from 
the same college. They belonged to the 
same clubs, and were acknowledged to be 
the best horsemen in town. As to social 
prominence, neither had any advantage 
over the other, save in the eyes of matrons 
who possessed marriageable (and extrav- 
agant) daughters. Williard, the Repub- 
lican nominee, was a handsome chap, 
liberal-minded and generous-hearted, 
without a personal enemy in the world. I 
recollect only one fault: he loved the 
world a little too well. The opposition 
organs, during the heat of the campaign, 
dropped vague hints regarding dinners to 
105 



THE BEST MAN 

singers and actresses and large stakes in 
poker games. Newcomb, his opponent, 
was not handsome, but he had a fine, 
clean-cut, manly face, an intrepid eye, a 
resolute mouth, and a tremendous ambi- 
tion. He lived well within his income, 
the highest recommendation that may be 
paid to a young man of these days. 

He threw himself into the fight with 
all the ardor of which his nature wa§ ca- 
pable; whereas Williard was content to 
let the machine direct his movements. 
The truth is, Williard was indifferent 
whether he became mayor or not. To 
him the conflict was a diversion, a new 
fish to LucuUus; and when the Demo- 
cratic organs wrote scathing editorials 
about what they termed his profligate ca- 
Beer, he would laugh and exhibit the 
articles at the club. It was all a huge 
joke. He made very few speeches, and at 
io6 



TWO CANDIDATES 

no time could he be forced into the for- 
eign districts. He complained that his 
olfactory nerve was too delicately edu- 
cated. The leaders swallowed their ran- 
cor; there was nothing else for them to 
do. In Williard's very lack of ambition 
lay his strength. Poverty would have 
made a great man out of him ; but riches 
have a peculiar way of numbing the ap- 
preciation of the greater and simpler 
things in life. 

Newcomb went everywhere; the Poles 
hurrahed for him, the Germans, the Irish, 
the Huns and the Italians. And he made 
no promises which he did not honestly in- 
tend to fulfil. To him the fight meant 
everything; it meant fame and honor, a 
comfortable addition to his income, and 
Washington as a finality. He would puri- 
fy the Democrats while he annihilated 
the pretensions of the Republicans. He 
107 



THE BEST MAN 

was what historians call an active 
dreamer, a man who dreams and then 
goes forth to accomplish things. His per- 
sonality was engaging. 

Besides all this (for the secret must be 
told) Newcomb was in love and wished 
to have all these things to lay at the feet 
of his beloved, even if she returned them. 
You will regularly find it to be true that 
the single man is far more ambitious than 
his married brother. The latter invaria- 
bly turns over the contract to his wife. 

Williard was deeply in love, too, with 
Senator Gordon's lovely daughter, and 
Senator Gordon was that mysterious 
power which directed the Republican 
forces in his section of the state. So you 
may readily believe that Newcomb was 
forced to put up a better tight than Wil- 
liard, who stood high in Senator Gor- 
don's favor. The girl and the two young 
io8 



TWO CANDIDATES 

men had been friends since childhood, 
and nobody knew whether she cared for 
either of them in the way they desired. 
Everybody in town, who was anybody, 
understood the situation; and everybody 
felt confident that Williard was most 
likely to win. The girl never said any- 
thing, even to her intimate friends; but 
when the subject was brought up, she 
smiled in a way that dismissed it. 

Such was the political situation at the 
beginning of the municipal campaign. 
There have been like situations in any 
number of cities which boast of one hun- 
dred thousand inhabitants or more; per- 
haps in your town, and yours, and yours. 
That bugaboo of the politician, reform, 
brings around this phenomenon about 
once in every eight years. For a while the 
wicked ones promise to be good, and you 
will admit that that helps. 
109 



THE BEST MAN, 

It was amusing to follow the newspa- 
pers. They vilified each other, ripped to 
shreds the character of each candidate, 
recalled boyhood escapades and magni- 
fied them into frightful crimes, and de- 
clared in turn that the opposition boss 
should land in the penitentiary if it took 
all the type in the composing-rooms to 
do it What always strikes me as odd is 
that, laughter-loving people that we are, 
nobody laughs during these foolish pe- 
riods. Instead, everybody goes about, 
straining his conscience and warping his 
common-sense into believing these flimsy 
campaign lies, these outrageous political 
roorbacks. 

When Williard and Newcomb met at 
the club, at the Saturday-night luncheons, 
they avoided each other tactfully, cack 
secretly longing to grasp the other^s handJ 
and say: "Don't believe a word of it; old 
no 



arWO CANDIDATES 

boy; it*8 all tommy- rot." But policy held 
them at arm^s length. What would tie 
voters say if they heard that their respect- 
ive candidates were hobnobbing at a pri- 
vate club? Newcomb played billiards 
in the basement while Williard played A 
rubber at whist up stairs ; and the Satur- 
day rides out to the country club became 
obsolete. Only a few cynics saw the drofl 
side of the situation ; and they were confi- 
dent that when the election was over th« 
friendship would be renev/ed all the more 
strongly for the tension. 

One night, some weeks before the elec- 
tion, Williard dined alone with the sen- 
ator at the Gordon home. Betty Gordon 
was dining elsewhere. With the cognac 
and cigars, the senator drew out a slip of 
paper, scrutinized it for a spacCj then 
handed it to his protege. 

"That's the slate. How do you like it?*' 
Ill 



THE BEST MAN 

Williard ran his glance up and down 
the columns. Once he frowned. 

*'What's the matter?" asked the senator 
shrewdly. 

"I do not like the idea of Matthews for 
commissioner of public works. He's a 
blackleg — there's no getting around that. 
He practically runs that faro-bank above 
his down-town saloon. Can't you put 
some one else in his place?" 

The senator flipped the ash from the 
end of his cigar. 

"Honestly, my boy, I agree with your 
objection; but the word is given, and if 
we turn him down now, your friend New- 
comb will stand a pretty fair show of be- 
ing the next mayor." 

"You might get a worse one," Williard 
laughed. "Jack is one of the finest fel- 
lows in the world," loyally. 

"Not a bit of doubt; but politically," 

112 



TWO CANDIDATES 

said the senator, laughing, "he is a rascal, 
a man without a particle of character, 
and all that. But personally speaking, I 
would that this town had more like him. 
Win or lose, he will always be welcome in 
this house. But this Matthews matter; 
you will have to swallow him or be swal- 
lowed." 

"He's a rascal." 

"Perhaps he is. Once you are elected, 
however, you can force him out, and be 
hanged to him. Just now it would be ex- 
tremely dangerous. My boy, politics has 
strange bed-fellows, as the saying goes. 
These men are necessary ; to fight them is 
to cut your own throat. No one knows 
just how they get their power; but one 
morning you will wake up and find them 
menacing you, and you have to placate 
them and toss them sops." 

"I might at least have been consulted."" 
113 



THE BEST MA_N 

"I appreciated your antagonism be- 
forehand. Politics is a peculiar business. 
A man must form about himself a shell 
as thick as a turtle's, or his feelings are 
going to be hurt. Now, if you would like 
to change any of these smaller offices, the 
health department doesn't matter. What 
do you say?" 

"Oh, if Matthews remains on the slate, 
I do not care to alter the rest of it. But 
I warn you that I shall get rid of him at 
the earliest opportunity." 

"Just as you like." 

The senator smiled covertly. Matthews 
was one of his henchmen in the larger 
matters of state. His name had been the 
first to appear on the slate, and the sena- 
tor was determined that it should remain 
there. Not that he had any liking for the 
man; simply he was one of the wheels 
which made the machine run smoothly. 
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TWO CANDIDATES 

The senator knew his power of persua- 
sion; he knew Williard's easy-going 
nature ; but he also knew that these easy- 
going persons are terribly stubborn at 
times. He was obliged to hold on to 
Matthews. The gubernatorial campaign 
was looming up for the ensuing year, and 
the senator was curious to learn the real 
power that w^ent with the seal of a gov- 
ernor of a first-class state. 

There fell an intermission to the con- 
versation. Williard smoked thoughtfully. 
He recalled the years daring which he 
had accepted the generous hospitality of 
this house, and the love he held for the 
host's daughter. Only since his return 
from abroad had he learned the strength 
of his sentiment. Heretofore he had 
looked upon the girl as a sister, jolly, tal- 
ented, a fine dancer, a daring rider, a 
good comrade. He had been out of the 
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THE BEST MAN 

country for three years. On his return he 
had found Betty Gordon a beautiful 
woman, and he had silently surrendered. 
As yet he had said nothing, but he knew 
that she knew. Yet he always saw the 
shadow of Newcomb, old Jack New- 
comb. Well, let the best man win I 

"I can find a way to dispose of Mat- 
thews," he said finally. 

"I dare say." 

But Williard did not know the tenacity 
with which some men cling to office. The 
senator did. 

Here the servant ushered in two lieu- 
tenants of the senator's. One was an ex- 
consul and the other was the sui'veyor of 
customs, who was not supposed to dabble 
in local politics. 

"Everything is agreeable to Mr. Wil- 
liard," the senator answered in reply to 
the questioning look of his subordinates. 
ii6 



TWO CANDIDATES 

"He vows, however, that he will shake 
Matthews as soon as he can get the 
chance." 

The new arrivals laughed. 

"We'll put you through, young man," 
said the ex-consul ; "and one of these fine 
days we shall send you to France. That's 
the place for a man of your wit and 
wealth." 

Williard smiled and lighted a fresh 
cigar. He did possess the reputation of 
being a clever wit, and in his secret heart 
he would much prefer a consulate or a 
secretaryship at the French embassy. He 
thoroughly detested this indiscriminate 
hand-shaking which went with local poli- 
tics. 

But Matthews stuck in his gorge, and 

he wondered if Newcomb was going 

through any like ordeal, and if Newcomb 

would submit so readily. . . . Why 

117 



THE BE5T MAN 

the deuce didn't Betty return? It was al- 
most nine o'clock. 

Presently her sunny countenance ap- 
peared in the doorway, and Williard 
dropped his cigar joyfully and rose. It 
was worth all the politics in the world! 

"Gentlemen, you will excuse me," he 
said. 

"Go along!" the senator cried jovially. 
"We can spare you." 

As indeed they very well could! 

In a minute Williard was in the music- 
room. 

"I really do not know that I ought to 
shake hands with you, Dick," began Bet- 
ty, tossing her hat on the piano. "You 
have deceived me for years." 

"Deceived you! What do you mean?" 
mightily disturbed. 

"Wait a moment." She brought forth a 
paper. "Sit down in front of me. This is 
ii8 



TWO CANDIDATEa 

going to be a court of inquiry, and your 
sins shall be passed in review." He 
obeyed meekly. "Now listen," the girl 
went on, mischief in her eyes ; "this paper 
says horrid things about you. It claims 
that you have given riotous dinners to 
actresses and comic-opera singers. I clas- 
sify them because I do not think comic- 
opera singers are actresses." 

"Rot!" said Williard, crossing his legs 
and eying with pleasure the contours of 
her face. "Jolly rot!" 

"You mustn't say 'jolly' in this coun- 
try; it's English, and they'll be accusing 
you of it." 

"Well, bally rot; how will that go?" 

"That isn't very pretty, but it will pass. 
Now, to proceed. They say that your pri- 
vate life is profligate." 

"Oh, come now, Betty I" laughing difii- 
Hentiy. 

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THE BEST MAN 

"They say that you gamble at poker 
and win and lose huge sums." 

"Your father plays poker in Washing- 
ton ; I've seen him." 

"He's not on trial; you are. Further- 
more," went on the girl, the twinkle going 
from her eye, leaving it searching yet un- 
fathomable, "this editor says that you are 
only a dummy in this game of politics, 
and that once you are mayor, your signa- 
ture will be all that will be required of 
you. That is to say, you will be nothing 
but a puppet in the hands of the men 
who brought about your election." 

Williard thought of Matthews, and the 
smile on his lips died. 

"Now, Dick, this ]^.rfper says that it 
seeks only the truth of things, and admits 
that you possess certain engaging quali- 
ties. What am I to believe?" 

"Betty, you know very well that they'll 

X20 



TWO CANDIDATES 

have me robbing widows before elec- 
tion." He was growing restless. He felt 
that tnis trial wasn't all play. "If you 
don't mind, I'd rather talk of something 
else. Politics, politics, morning, noon and 
night until my ears ache I" 

"Or burn," suggested the girl. "The 
things they say about your private life — I 
don't care for them. I know that they are 
not truths. But the word 'puppet' annoys 
me." She laid aside the paper. 

"Have I ever acted like a dummy, Bet- 
ty? In justice to me, have I?" He was 
serious. 

"Not in ordinary things." 

"No one has ever heard that I broke a 
promise." 

"No." 

"Or that I was cowardly.'* 

"No, nol" 

"Well, if I am elected, I shall fool cer* 

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THE BEST MAN. 

tain persons. I am easy-going; I confess 
to that impeachment; but I have never 
been crossed successfully." 

"They'll know how to accomplish their 
ends without crossing you. That^s a part 
of the politician's business." 

"If I am elected, I'll study ways and 
means. Hang it, I wasn't running after 
office. They said that they needed me. As 
a property owner I had to surrender. I 
am not a hypocrite ; I never was. I can't 
go honestly among the lower classes and 
tell them that I like them, shake their 
grimy hands, hobnob with them at cau- 
cuses and in gloomy halls. I am not a pol- 
itician; my father was not before me; it 
isn't in my blood. I haven't the necessary 
ambition. Newcomb's grandfather was 
a war governor; mine was a planter in 
the South. Now, Newcomb has ambi- 
tion enough to carry him to the presi- 

122 



trWO CANDIDATES 

dency; and I hope he'll get it some day, 
and make an ambassador out of me. 
Sometimes I wish I wasn't rich, so that I 
might enjoy life as some persons do. To 
have something to fight for constantly! I 
am spoiled." 

He wheeled his chair toward the fire 
and rested his elbows on his knees. 

"He's very handsome," thought the 
girl ; but she sighed. 



123 



It 



THAT same evening Newcomb 
and McDermott, the Democratic 
leader, met by appointment in 
McDermott's law offices. McDermott 
was a wealthy steel-manufacturer who 
had held various state and national of- 
fices. As a business man his policy 
was absolute honesty. He gave liberal 
wages, met his men personally, and ad- 
justed their differences. There were as 
many Republicans as Democrats in his 
employ. Politics never entered the shop. 
Every dollar in his business had been 
honestly earned. He was a born leader, 
kindly, humorous, intelligent. But once 
he put on his silk hat and frock coat, 
a metamorphosis, strange and incompre- 
124 



TWO CANDIDATES 

hensible, took place. He became alto- 
gether a different man ; cold, purposeful, 
determined, bitter, tumbling over obsta- 
cles without heart or conscience, using all 
means to gain his devious ends ; scheming, 
plotting, undermining this man or elevat- 
ing that, a politician in every sense of the 
word; cunning, astute, long-headed, far- 
seeing. He was not suave like his old 
enemy, the senator ; he was blunt because 
he knew the fullness of his power. But 
for all his bluntness, he was, when need 
said must, a diplomat of no mean order. 
If he brought about a shady election, he 
had the courage to stand by what he had 
done. He was respected and detested 
alike. 

The present incumbent in the city hall 
was no longer of use to him. He was wise 
enough to see that harm to his power 
would come about in case the reform 

125 



THE BEST MAN 

movement got headway; he might even 
be dethroned. So his general's eye had 
lighted on Newcomb, as the senator's had 
lighted on Williard; only he had mis- 
taken his man, whereas the senator had 
not. 

"My boy,'* he began, "I'm going to 
lecture you." 

"Go ahead," said Newcomb. "I know 
what the trouble is. I crossed out Mr. 
Murphy's name from the list you fixed 
up for my inspection." 

"And his name must go back," smil- 
ing. "We can't afford to turn him down 
at this late day." 

"I can," said the protege imperturba- 
bly and firmly. 

For a moment their glances met and 
clashed. 

"You must always remember the wel- 
fare of the party," gently. 
126 



TWO CANDIDATEiS 

"And the people," supplemented the 
admonished one. 

"Of course," with thin lips. "But 
Murphy's name must stand. We depend 
upon the eighth ward to elect you, and 
Murphy holds it in his palm. Your 
friend Williard will be forced to accept 
Matthews for the same reason. It's a 
game of chess, but a great game." 

"Matthews? I don't believe it. Wil- 
liard would not speak to him on the street, 
let alone put him on the ticket." 

"Wait and see." 

"He's a blackleg, a gambler, worse 
than Murphy." 

"And what is your grievance against 
Murphy? He has always served the party 
well." 

"Not to speak of Mr. Murphy." 

"What has he done?" 

"He has sold his vote three times in the 
127 



THE BEST MAN 

common counril. He sold it once for two 
thousand dollars in that last pavement 
deal. I have been rather observant. Let 
him remain alderman ; I can not sec my 
I way clear to appoint him to a position in 
the city hall." 

McDermott's eyes narrowed. "Your 
accusations are grave. If Murphy learns, 
he may make you prove it." 

Newcomb remained silent for a few 
minutes, his face in thoughtful repose; 
then having decided to pursue a certain 
course, he reached into a pigeon-hole of 
his desk and selected a paper w^hich he 
gave to McDermott. The latter studied 
the paper carefully. From the paper his 
glance traveled to the face of the young 
man opposite him. He wondered why he 
hadn't taken more particular notice of the 
cleft chin and the blue-gray eyes. Had he 
made a mistake? Was the young fellow^s 
128 



fWO CANDIDATES 

honesty greater than his ambition? Mc- 
Dermott returned the paper without com- 
ment 

"Is that proof enough?*' Newcomb 
asked, a bit of raillery in his tones. 

"You should have told me of this long 
ago." 

"I hadn't the remotest idea that Mur- 
phy's name would turn up. You can very 
well understand that I can not consider 
this man's name as an appointee." 

"Why hasn't it been turned over to the 
district attorney?" 

"The plaintiff is a patient man. He 
left it to me. It is a good sword, and I 
may have to hold it over Mr. Murphy's 
neck." 

McDermott smiled. 

"The Democratic party in this county 
needs a strong tonic in the nature of a 
clean bill. I want my appointees men of 
129 



THE BEST MAN 

high standing; I want them honest; I 
want them not for what they have donC| 
but what they may do." 

McDermott smiled again. "I have 
made a mistake in not coming to you 
earlier. There is a great future for a man 
of your kidney, Newcomb. You have a 
genuine talent for politics. You possess 
something that only a dozen men in a 
hundred thousand possess, a tone. Words 
are empty things unless they are backed 
by a tone. Tone holds the auditor, con- 
vinces him, directs him if by chance he is 
wavering. You are a born orator. Miller 
retires from Congress next year. His use- 
fulness in Washington has passed. How 
would you like to succeed him?" 

Insidious honey! Newcomb looked out 
of the window. Washington! A seat 
among the Seats of the Mighty! A torch- 
light procession was passing through the 
130 



TWO CANDIDATES 

Street below, and the noise of the fife and 
drum rose. The world's applause; the 
beating of hands, the yells of triumph, the 
laudation of the press — the world holds 
no greater thrill than this. Art and liter- 
ature stand pale beside it. But a worm 
gnawed at the heart of this rose, a canker 
ate into the laurel. Newcomb turned. 
He was by no means guileless. 

"When I accepted this nomination, I 
did so because I believed that the party 
was in danger, and that, if elected, I 
might benefit the people. I have re- 
mained silent ; I have spoken but little of 
my plans; I have made few promisee. 
Mr. McDermott, I am determined, first 
and foremost, to be mayor in all trie mean- 
ing of the word. I refuse to be a figure- 
head, I have crossed out Murphy's name 
because he is a dishonest citizen. Yes, I 
am ambitious ; but I would forego Wash- 
131 



THE BEST MAN 

ington rather than reach it by shaking 
Murphy's hand." The blood of the old 
war-governor tingled in his veins at that 
moment. 

"It must be replaced," quietly. 

"In face of that document?" 

"In spite of it." 

"I refuse!" 

"Listen to reason, my boy; you are 
young, and you have to learn that in poli- 
tics there's always a bitter pill with the 
sweet. To elect you I have given my word 
to Murphy that he shall have the office." 

"You may send Mr. Murphy to me," 
said Newcomb curtly. "I'll take all the 
blame." 

"This is final?" 

"It is. And I am surprised that you 
should request this of me." 

"He will defeat you." 

"So be it." 

132 



TWO CANDIDATES 

McDermott was exceedingly angry, 
but he could not help admiring the young 
man's resoluteness and direct honesty. 

"You are making a fatal mistake. I 
shall make an enemy of fhe man, and I 
shall not be able to help you. I have a 
great deal at stake. If we lose the eighth, 
we lose everything, and for years to 
come." 

"Perhaps. One dishonest step leads to 
another, and if I should sanction this man, 
I should not hesitate at greater dishon- 
esty. My honesty is my bread and butter 
. . . and my conscience." 

"Corporations have no souls; politics 
has no conscience. Williard ..." 

"My name is Newcomb," abruptly. 
"In a matter of this kind I can not permit 
myself to be subjected to comparisons. 
You brought about my present position in 
municipal affairs." 

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THE BEST MAN 

"We had need of you, and still need 
you," confessed the other reluctantly. 
"The party needs new blood." 

"You are a clever man, Mr. McDer- 
mott; you are a leader; let me appeal to 
your better judgment. Murphy is a 
blackguard, and he would be in any party, 
in any country. In forcing him on me, 
you rob me of my self-respect." 

McDermott shrugged. "In this case he 
is a necessary evil. The success of the 
party depends upon his good will. Lis- 
ten. Will you find, in all this wide land, 
a ruling municipality that is incorrupt? 
Is there not a fly in the ointment which- 
ever way you look? Is not dishonesty 
fought with dishonesty; isn't it corrup- 
tion against corruption? Do you believe 
for a minute that you can bring about this 
revolution? No, my lad; no. This is a 
workaday world; Utopia is dreamland. 

134 



TWO CANDIDATES 

Yon can easily keep your eye on this man. 
If he makes a dishonest move, you can 
find it in your power to remove him ef- 
fectually. But I swear to you that he is 
absolutely necessary." 

'Well, I will assume the risk of his dis- 
pleasure." 

"Show him your document, and tell 
him that if he leaves you in the lurch at 
the polls, you'll send him to prison. 
That's the only way out." McDermott 
thought he saw light, 

"Make a blackmailer of myself? 
Hardly." 

"I am sorry." McDermott rose. "You 
are digging a pit for a very bright fu- 
ture." 

"Politically, perhaps." 

"If you are defeated, there is no pos- 
sible method of sending you to Washing- 
ton m Miller's place. You must have 

135 



THE BEST MAN 

popularity to back you. I have observed 
that you are a very ambitious young man." 

"Not so ambitious as to obscure my 
sense of right." 

"I like your pluck, my boy, though it 
stands in your own light. I'll do all I can 
to pacify Murphy. Good night and good 
luck to you." And McDermott made his 
departure. 

Newcomb remained motionless in his 
chair, studying the night. So much for 
his dreams! He knew what McDermott's 
"I'll do what I can" meant. If only he 
had not put his heart so thoroughly into 
the campaign! Was there any honesty? 
Was it worth while to be true to oneself? 
Murphy controlled nearly four hundred 
votes. For six years the eighth ward had 
carried the Democratic party into vic- 
tory. Had he turned this aside? For 
years the elections had been like cheese- 
136 



TWO CANDIDATES 

parings; and in ten years there hadn't 
been a majority of five hundred votes on 
either side. If Murphy was a genuine 
party man, and not a leech, he would 
stand square for his party and not con- 
sider personal enmity. What would he do 
when he heard from McDermott that he 
(Newcomb) had deliberately crossed him 
off the ticket of appointees? 

From among some old papers in a 
drawer Newcomb produced the portrait 
of a young girl of sixteen in fancy dress. 
When he had studied this a certain length 
of time, he took out another portrait: it 
was the young girl grown into superb 
womanhood. The eyes were kind and 
merry, the mouth beautiful, the brow fine 
and smooth like a young poet's, a nose 
with the slightest tilt; altogether a high- 
bred, queenly, womanly face, such as 
makes a man desire to do great things in 
137 



THE BEST MAN 

the world. Newcomb had always loved 
her. He had gone through the various 
phases: the boy, the diffident youth, the 
man. (Usually it takes three women to 
bring about these changes!) There was 
nothing wild or incoherent in his love, 
nothing violent or passionate; rather the 
serene light, the steady burning light, 
that guides the ships at sea; constant, en- 
during, a sure beacon. 

As he studied the face from all angles, 
his jaws hardened. He lifted his chin de- 
fiantly. He had the right to love her; he 
had lived cleanly, he had dealt justly to 
both his friends and his enemies, he owed 
no man, he was bound only to his mother, 
who had taught him the principles of 
manly living. He had the right to love 
any woman in the world. . . . And 
there was Williard — handsome, easy-go- 
ing old Dick! Why was it written that 
138 



arWO CANDIDATES 

their paths must cross in everything? Yes, 
Dick loved her, too, but with an affection 
that had come only with majority. Wil- 
liard had everything to offer besides. 
Should he step down and aside for his 
friend? Did friendship demand such a 
sacrifice? No ! Let Williard fight for her 
as he (Newcomb) intended to fight for 
her; and if Williard won, there would be 
time then to surrender. 

It was almost twelve when the scrub- 
woman aroused him from his reveries. 
'He closed his desk and went home, his 
heart full of battle. He would put up the 
best fight that was in him, for love and 
for fame; and if he lost he would still 
have his manhood and self-respect, which 
any woman might be proud to find at her 
feet, to accept or decline. He would go 
into Murphy's own country and fight him 
openly and without secret weapons. He 
139 



THE BEST MAN 

knew very well that he held it in his 
power to coerce Murphy, but that wasn't 
fighting. 

Neither of the candidates slept well 
that night. 

So the time went forward. The second 
Tuesday in November was but a fortnight 
off. Newcomb fought every inch of 
ground. He depended but little, if any, 
upon McDermott's assistance, though 
that gentleman came gallantly to his res- 
cue, as it was necessary to save his own 
scalp. It crept into the papers that there 
was a rupture between Murphy and the 
Democratic candidate. The opposition 
papers cried in glee ; the others remained 
sf^ent. Murphy said nothing when ques- 
tioned; he simply smiled. Newcomb 
won the respect of his opponents. The la- 
boring classes saw in him a Moses, and 
140 



TWO CANDIDATES 

they hailed him with cheers whenever 
they saw him. 

There were many laughable episodes 
during the heat of the campaign; but 
Newcomb knew how and when to laugh. 
He answered questions from the plat- 
form, and the ill-mannered were invaria- 
bly put to rout by his good-natured wit. 
Once they hoisted him on top of a bar 
in an obscure saloon. His shoulders 
touched the gloomy ceiling, and he was 
forced to address the habitues, with his 
head bent like a turtle's, his nose and eyes 
offended by the heat and reek of kerosene 
and cheap tobacco. They had brought 
him there to bait him ; they carried him 
out on their shoulders. To those who 
wanted facts he gave facts; to some he 
told humorous stories, more or less ap- 
plicable; and to others he spoke his sin- 
cere convictions. 

141 



THE BEST MAN 

Meantime Williard took hold of af- 
fairs, but in a bored fashion. He did the 
best he knew how, but it wasn't the best 
that wins high place in the affections of 
the people. 

The betting was even. 

Election day came round finally — one 
of those rare days when the pallid ghost 
of summer returns to view her past victo- 
ries, when the broad wings of the West 
go a-winnowing the skies, and the sun 
shines warm and grateful. On that morn- 
ing a change took place in Newcomb's 
heart. He became filled with dread. 
After leaving the voting-polls early in the 
morning, he returned to his home and 
refused to sec any one. He even had the 
telephone wires cut. Only his mother saw 
him, and hovered about him with a thou- 
sand kindly attentions. At the door she 
became a veritable dragon ; not even tele- 
142 



TWO CANDIDATES 

graph messengers could pass her or 
escape her vigilance. 

At six in the evening Newcomb or- 
dered around his horse. He mounted and 
rode away into the hill country south of 
the city, into the cold crisp autumn air. 
There was fever in his veins that needed 
cooling; there were doubts and fears in 
his mind that needed clearing. He want- 
ed that sense of physical exhaustion which 
makes a man indifferent to mental blows. 

The day passed and the night came. 
Election night! The noisy, good-natured 
crowds in the streets, the jostling, snail- 
moving crowds I The illuminated canvas- 
sheets in front of the newspaper offices! 
The blare of horns, the cries, the yells, the 
hoots and hurrahs! The petty street 
fights! The stalled surface-cars, the 
swearing cabbies, the venders of horns 
and whistles, the newsboys hawking their 

143 



THE BEST MAN 

extras I It is the greatest of all spectacular 
nights ; humanity comes out into the open. 

The newspaper offices were yellow 
with lights. It was a busy time. There 
was a continuous coming and going of 
messengers, bringing in returns. The 
newspaper men took off their coats and 
rolled up their sleeves. Figures, figures, 
thousands of figures to sift and resift! 
Filtering through the various noises was 
the maddening click of the telegraph in- 
struments. Great drifts of waste paper 
littered the floors. A sandwich man 
served coffee and sandwiches. The chief 
distributed cigars. Everybody was writ- 
ing, writing. Five men were sent out to 
hunt for Newcomb, but none could find 
him. His mother refused to state where 
he had gone; in fact, she knew nothing 
save that he had gone horseback riding. 

At nine there was a gathering at the 
144 



TWO CANDIDATES 

club. Williard was there, and all who 
had charge of the wheels within wheels. 
They had ensconced themselves in the 
huge davenports in the bow-window fac- 
ing the street, and had given orders to 
the steward to charge everything that 
night to Senator Gordon. A fabulous 
number of corks were pulled ; but gentle- 
men are always orderly. 

Williard, however, seemed anything 
but happy. He had dined at the senator's 
that evening, and something had taken 
place there which the general public 
would never learn. He was gloomy, and 
the wine he drank only added to his 
gloom. 

The younger element began to wander 
in, carrying those execrable rooster-pos- 
ters. A gay time ensued. 

Newcomb had ridden twelve miles into 
the country. At eight o'clock the tem- 
145 



THE BEST MAN 

perature changed and it began to snow. 
He turned and rode back toward the 
city, toward victory or defeat. Some- 
times he went at a canter, sometimes at a 
trot. By and by he could see the aureola 
from the electric lights wavering above 
the city. Once he struck a wind-niatch 
and glanced at his watch. Had he lost or 
had he won? A whimsical inspiration 
came to him. He determined to hear vic- 
tory or defeat from the lips of the girl he 
loved. The snow fell softly into his face 
and melted. His hair became matted over 
his eyes; his gauntlets dripped and the 
reins became slippery; a steam rose from 
the horse's body, a big-hearted hunter on 
which he had ridden many a mile. 

"Good boy!" said Newcomb; "we'll 
have it first from her lips." 

Finally he struck the asphalt of the city 
limits, and he slowed down to a walk. He 
146 



fWO CANDIDATES 

turned into obscure streets. Whenever he 
saw a bonfire, he evaded it. 

It was ten o'clock when he drew up in 
front of the Gordon home. He tied his 
horse to the post with the hitching-chain 
and knotted the reins so that they would 
not slip over the horse's head, wiped his 
face with his handkerchief, and walked 
bravely up to the veranda. There were 
few lights. Through the library window 
he saw the girl standing at the telephone. 
He prayed that she might be wholly 
alone. After a moment's hesitation he 
pressed the button and waited. 

Betty herself came to the door. She 
peered out. 

"What is it?" she asked. 

"I did not expect that you would recog- 
nize me," said Newcomb, laughing. 

"John? Where in the world did you 
come from?" taking him by the arm and 
147 



TH E B EST MAN 

dragging him into the hall. "Good gra- 
cious!" 

"The truth is, Betty, I took to my heels 
at six o'clock, and have been riding 
around the country ever since." He sent 
her a penetrating glance. 

"Come in to the fire," she cried impul- 
sively. "You are cold and wet and hun- 
gry." 

"Only wet," he admitted as he entered 
the cheerful library. He went directly to 
the blazing grate and spread out his red, 
wet, aching hands. He could hear her 
bustling about; it was a pleasant sound. 
A chair rolled up to the fender; the rat- 
tle of a tea-table followed. It was all very 
fine. "I ought to be ashamed to enter a 
house in these reeking clothes," he said; 
"but the temptation was too great." 

"You are always welcome, John," 
softly. 

148 



TWO CANDIDATES 

His keen ear caught the melancholy 
sympathy in her tone. He shrugged. He 
had lost the fight. Had he won, she would 
already have poured forth her congratu- 
lations. 

"Sit down," she commanded, "while I 
get the tea. Or would you prefer 
brandy?" 

"The tea, by all means. I do not need 
brandy to bolster up my courage." He 
sat down. 

She left the room and returned shortly 
with biscuit and tea. She filled a cup, put 
in two lumps of sugar, and passed the cup 
to him. 

"YouVe a good memory," he said, 
smiling at her. "It*s nice to have one's 
likes remembered, even in a cup of tea. I 
look as if I had been to war, don't I?" 

She buttered a biscuit. He ate it, not 
because he was hungry, but because her 
149 



THE BEST MAN 

fingers had touched it. It was a phantom 
kiss. He put the cup down. 

"Now, which is it; have I been licked, 
or have I won?" 

"What!" she cried; "do you mean to 
tell me you do not know?" She gazed at 
him bewilde redly. 

"I have been four hours in the saddle. 
I know nothing, save that which instinct 
and the sweet melancholy of your voice 
tell me. Betty, tell me, I've been licked, 
haven't I, and old Dick has gone and done 
it, eh?" 

The girl choked for a moment; there 
was a sob in her throat. 

"Yes, John." 

Newcomb reached over and tapped 
the hearth with his riding-crop, absent- 
mindedly. The girl gazed at him, her 
eyes shining in a mist of unshed tears. 
. . . She longed to reach out her hand 
150 



TWO CANDIDATES 

anH smooth the furrows from his care- 
worn brow, to brush the melting crystals 
of snow from his hair; longed to soothe 
the smart of defeat which she knew was 
burning his heart. She knew that only 
strong men suffer in silence. 

From a half-opened window the night 
breathed upon them, freighted with the 
far-off murmur of voices. 

"I confess to you that I built too much 
on the outcome. I am ambitious ; I want 
to be somebody, to take part in the great 
affairs of the world. I fought the very 
best I knew how. I had many dreams. 
Do you recollect the verses I used to write 
to you when we were children? There 
was always something of the poet in me, 
and it is still there, only it no longer de- 
velops on paper. I had looked toward 
Washington . o . even toward you, 
Betty," 

151 



THE BEST MAN 

Silence. The girl sat very still. Her 
face was white and her eyes large. 

"I am honest. I can see now that I have 
no business in politics. . . ," He 
laughed suddenly and turned toward the 
girl. "I was on the verge of wailing. I'm 
licked, and I must begin all over again. 
Dick will make a good mayor, that is, if 
they leave him alone. . . . Whim- 
sical, wasn't it, of me, coming here to 
have you tell me the news?" He looked 
away. 

The girl smiled and held out her hand 
to him, and as he did not see it, laid it 
gently on his sleeve. 

"It does not matter, Johi^. Some day 
you will realize all your ambitions. You 
are not the kind of man who gives up. 
Defeat is a necessary step to greatness; 
and you will become great. I am glad 
that you came to me." She knew now; all 
152 



TWO CANDIDATES 

her doubts were gone, all the confusing 
shadows. 

Newcomb turned and touched her hand 
with his lips. 

'Why did you come to me?" she asked 
with fine courage. 

His eyes widened. "Why did I come to 
you? If I had won I should have told 
you. But I haven't won ; I have lost." 

"Does that make the difference so 
great?" 

"It makes the difficulty greater." 

*'Tell me!" with a voice of command. 

They both rose suddenly, rather uncon- 
sciously, too. Their glances held, magnet 
and needle-wise. Across the street a bon- 
fire blazed, and the ruddy light threw a 
mellow rose over their strained faces. 

"I love you," he said simply. "That is 
what drew me here, that is what has al- 
ways drawn me here. But say nothing to 
153 



THE BEST MAN 

me, Betty. God knows I am not strong 
enough to suffer two defeats in one night. 
God bless you and make you happy!" 

He turned and took a few steps toward 
the door. 

"If it were not defeat . . . if it 
were victory?" she said, in a kind of whis- 
per, her hands on the back of the chair. 

The senator came in about midnight. 
He found his daughter asleep in a chair 
before a half-dead fire. There was a ten- 
der smile on her lips. He touched her 
gently. 

"It is you, daddy?" Her glance trav- 
eled from his florid countenance to the 
clock. "Mercy! I have been dreaming 
these two hours." 

"What do you suppose Newcomb did 
to-night?" lighting a cigar. 

"What did he do?" 

IS4 



trwO CANDIDATES 

"Came into the club and congratulated 
Williard publicly." 

"He did that?" cried the girl, her 
cheeks dyeing exquisitely. 

"Did it like a man, too." The senator 
dropped into a chair. "It was a great vic- 
tory, my girl." 

Betty smiled. "Yes, it was." 



IS5 



I 



l^lfT is positively dreadful!" 

Even with the puckered brow 
and drooping lips, Mrs. Cathewe 
was a most charming young person. 

Absently she breathed upon the chilled 
window-pane, and with the pink horn of 
her tapering for^nger drew letters and 
grotesque noses and millions on millions 
of money. 

Who has not, at one time or another, 
pursued art and riches in this harmless 
fashion? 

The outlook — from the window, not 
the millions — was not one to promote any 
156 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

degree of cheerfulness, being of darkness, 
glistening pavements and a steady, blurr- 
ing rain; and at this particular moment 
Mrs. Cathewe was quite in sympathy with 
the outlook ; that is to say, dismal. 

"Only last week," she went on, "it was 
an actor out of employ, a man with re- 
versible cuffs and a celluloid collar; but 
even he knew the difference between 
bouillon and tea. And now. Heaven have 
mercy, it is a prize-fighter!" 

Mrs. Cathewe reopened the note which 
in her wrath she had crushed in her left 
hand, and again read it aloud : 

"Dear Nancy — ^Am bringing home Sullivan, 
the boxer, to dinner. Now, ducky, don't get mad. 
I want to study him at close range. You know 
that I am to have a great boxing scene in my new 
book, and this study is absolutely necessary. In 
haste. Jack." 

Mrs. Cathewe turned pathetically to 
her companion. 

157 



^THE BEST MAN 

"Isn't it awful? A prize-fighter, in 
spite of all this reform movement! A 
pugilist!" 

"A pug, as my brother would tersely 
but inelegantly express it," and Caroline 
Boderick lifted an exquisitely molded 
chin and laughed; a rollicking laugh 
which, in spite of her endeavor to remain 
unmoved, twisted up the corners of Mrs. 
Cathewe's rebel mouth. 

"Forgive me. Nan, if I laugh; but who 
in the world could help it? It is so droll. 
This is the greatest house! Imagine, I 
had the blues the worst kind of way to- 
day; and now I shall be laughing for a 
whole week. You dear girl, what do you 
care? You'll be laughing, too, presently. 
When a woman marries a successful 
painter or a popular novelist, she will 
find that she has wedded also a life full 
of surprises, full of amusing scenes ; ennui 
158 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

is a word cast forth to wander among 
commonplace folk. Your husband must 
have his model, just the same as if he were 
an artist, which he undeniably is." 

"Models !" scornfully. "I wish he were 
a romanticist. I declare, if this realism 
keeps on, I shall go and live in the coun- 
try!" 

"And have your husband's curios re- 
main all night instead of simply dining." 
And Caroline pressed her hands against 
her sides. 

"That is it; laugh, laugh I Carol, you 
have no more sympathy than a turtle." 

"You are laughing yourself," said Car- 
oline. 

"It is because I'm looking at you. Why, 
I am positively raging!" She tore her 
husband's letter into shreds and cast them 
at her feet. "Jack is always upsetting my 
choicest plans." 

159 



THE BEST MAN 

"And my sobriety. If I had a husband 
like yours I should always be the happiest 
and merriest woman in the world. What 
a happy woman you must and ought to 
be!" 

"I am, Carol, I am ; but there are times 
when Jack is as terrible and uncertain as 
Mark Twain's New England weather. 
Supposing I had been giving a big dinner 
to-night? It would have been just tht 
same." 

"Only more am.using. Fancy Mrs. Not- 
tingham-Stuart taking inventory of this 
Mr. Sullivan through that pince-nez of 
hers!" 

A thought suddenly sobered Mrs. 
Cathewe. 

"But whatever shall I do, Carol? I 
have invited the rector to dine with us." 

Mirth spread its sunny wings and flew 
away, leaving Caroline's beautiful eyes 
i6o 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

thoughtful and contemplative. "I under- 
stood that it was to be a very little dinner 
for the family." 

"Carol, why don't you like the rector? 
He is almost handsome." 

"I do like him, Nan." 

"Oh, I don't mean in that way," im- 
pulsively. 

"In what way?" asked Caroline, her 
voice losing some of its warmth. 

"Passively." 

The faint, perpendicular line above 
Caroline's nose was the only sign of her 
displeasure. 

"Has he proposed to you?" 

"Gracious sakes ! one would think that 
the rector was in love with me. Nan, you 
are very embarrassing when you look like 
that. Match-making isn't your forte. Be- 
sides, the rector and I do not get on very 
well. Bifurcated riding skirts are not to 
i6i 



THE BEST MAN 

his fancy; and I would not give up my 
morning ride for the best man living. Oh, 
Nan, you ought to ride a horse; there's 
nothing like it in the world." 

"The rector has called upon you more 
than any other girl in town." When Mrs. 
Cathewe had an idea, she was very per- 
sistent about it. "I have even seen him 
watching you when delivering a sermon." 

Caroline laughed. 

"Calling doesn't signify. And you must 
remember, daddy is the banker of St. 
Paul's. No, Nan; I don't mean that; I 
am sure that the rector's calls have noth- 
ing to do with the finances of the church. 
But, to tell the truth, daddy calls him a 
mollycoddle ; says he hasn't enough gump- 
tion — whatever that may be — to stand up 
for himself at the trustees' meetings. All 
the trustees are opposed to him because he 
is not over thirty." 

162 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

"And the best-looking rector the 
church ever had," supplemented Mrs. 
Cathewe. 

"But a mollycoddle, Nan! You 
wouldn't have me marry a mollycoddle, 
would you?" There was a covert plea in 
her tones which urged Mrs. Cathewe em- 
phatically to deny that the Reverend 
Richard Allen was a mollycoddle. 

Mrs. Cathewe did deny it. "He is not 
a mollycoddle, and you very well know it. 
Jack says that his meekness and humility 
is all a sham." 

"A hypocrite !" sitting up very straight. 

"Mercy, no! His meekness is merely a 
sign of splendid self-control. No man 
could be a mollycoddle and have eyes like 
his. True, they are mild, but of the mild- 
ness of the sea on a calm day. 'Ware of 
the hurricane!" 

"Has Mr. Cathewe found out yet to 
163 



THE BEST MAN 

what college he belonged before he be- 
came a divinity student?" 

"No; and even I have never had the 
courage to ask him. But Jack thinks it 
is Harvard, because the rector let slip one 
day something about Cambridge. Why 
don't you write to ask your brother about 
him?" 

For reasons best known to herself, 
Caroline did not answer. 

"Are you ever going to get married? 
You are twenty-four." 

Caroline was laughing again; but it 
was not the same spirit of mirth that had 
been called into life by the possible and 
probable advent of Mr. "Shifty" Sulli- 
van. 

"You ought to get married," declared 
Mrs. Cathewe. "Think of the dinners 
and teas I should give, following the an- 
nouncement." 

164 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

**It is almost worth the risk," mock- 
ingly. Caroline arose and walked over to 
the grate and sat down in the Morris 
chair. She took up the tongs and stirred 
the maple log. The spurt of flame dis- 
covered a face almost as beautiful as it 
was interesting and amiable. Her princi- 
pal claim to beauty, however, lay in her 
eyes, which were large and brown, with 
a glister of gold in the rim of that part of 
the iris which immediately surrounded 
the pupil. With these eyes she was fasci- 
nating; even her dearest friends admitted 
this; and she was without caprices, which 
is a rare trait in a beautiful woman. She 
was also as independent as the Declara- 
tion which her mother's grandfather 
signed a hundred and some odd years be- 
fore. She came naturally into the spirit, 
her father being a retired army officer, 
now the financial mainstay of St. Paurs, 
165 



THE BEST MAN 

of which the Reverend Richard Allen 
had recently been duly appointed rector. 

It is propitious to observe at once that 
the general possessed an unreliable liver 
and a battered shin which always ached 
with rheumatism during rainy weather. 
Only two persons dared to cross him on 
stormy days — his daughter and his son. 
The son was completing his final year at 
Harvard in the double capacity of so-and- 
so on the Varsity crew and some-place-or- 
other on the eleven, and felt the impor- 
tance of the luster which he was adding to 
the historic family name. But this story 
in nowise concerns him; rather the ad- 
ventures of Mr. Sullivan, the pugilist, 
and the rector of St. Paul. 

"Mollycoddle," mused Caroline, re- 
placing the tongs. 

"Oh, your father's judgment is not in- 
fallible." 

i66 



MR. ''^shifty'' SULLIVAN" 

"It is where courage is concerned," re- 
torted Caroline. 

"Well, what's a mollycoddle, an5rway?" 
demanded Mrs. Cathewe, forgetting for 
the time being her own imminent troubles. 

"Does Webster define it? I do not re- 
call. But at any rate the accepted mean- 
ing of the word is a person without a 
backbone, a human being with rubber 
vertebrae, as daddy expresses it." 

"Oh, fudge ! your father likes men who 
slam doors, talk loudly, and bang their 
fists in their palms." 

"Not always," smiling; "at least on 
days like this." 

"Yes, I understand," replied Mrs. 
Cathewe, laughing. "B-r-r-r! I can see 
him. Jack says he eats them alive, what- 
ever he means by that." 

"Poor daddy!" 

"I remember the late rector. When- 
167 



THE BEST MAN 

ever he made a begging call he first asked 
the servant at the door, * How's the gen- 
eral's liver to-day?' 'Bad, bad, your wor- 
ship.' I overheard this dialogue one day 
while waiting for you. I had to bury my 
head in the sofa pillows." 

"You are going to have Brussels 
sprouts for salad?" 

"Yes. Why?" amused at this queer 
turn in the conversation. 

"I was wondering if your Mr. Sullivan 
will call them amateur cabbages?" 

"Why did you remind me of him? I 
had almost forgotten him." 

"If only I can keep a sober face!" said 
Caroline, clasping her hands. "If he 
wears a dress suit, it is sure to pucker 
across the shoulders, be short in the 
sleeves, and generally wrinkled. He will 
wear a huge yellow stone, and his hair 
will be clipped close to the skull. It will 
i68 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

be covered with as many white scars as a 
map with railroad tracks. 'Mr. Sullivan, 
permit me to introduce the Reverend 
Richard Allen.' 'Sure.' Oh, it is rich!" 
And the laughter which followed smoth- 
ered the sound of closing doors. "Nan, it 
is a tonic. I wish I were a novelist's wife. 
'Mr. Sullivan, I am charmed to meet 
you.' I can imagine the rector's horror." 

"And what is going to horrify the rec- 
tor?" asked a manly voice from the door- 
way. 

Both women turned guiltily, each ut- 
tering a little cry of surprise and dismay. 
They beheld a young man of thirty, of 
medium height, who looked shorter than 
he really was because of the breadth of 
his shoulders. His face was clean-shaven 
and manly; the head was well developed, 
the chin decided, the blue-gray eyes 
alight with animation and expectancy. 
169 



THE BEST MAN 

The clerical frock was buttoned closely 
to the throat, giving emphasis to the 
splendid breathing powers concealed be- 
neath. The Reverend Richard Allen 
looked all things save the mollycoddle, as 
the flush on Caroline's cheeks conceded. 
And as she arose, she vaguely wondered 
how much he had heard. 

The rector, being above all things a 
gentleman, did not press his question. He 
came forward and shook hands, and then 
spread his fingers over the crackling log. 

"What do you suppose has happened 
to me this day?" he began, turning his 
back to the blaze and looking first at Mrs. 
Cathewe because she was his hostess, and 
then at Caroline because she was the 
woman who lived first in his thoughts. 

"You have found a worthy mendi- 
cant?" suggested Caroline, taking up the 
hand-screen and shading her eyes. 
170 



MR. **SHIFTY^' SULLIVAN 

"Cold, cold." 

"You have been asked to make an ad- 
dress before some woman's club," Mrs. 
Cathewe offered. 

"Still cold. No. The Morning Post 
has asked me, in the interests of reform, to 
write up the prize-fight to-morrow night 
between Sullivan and McManus, setting 
forth the contest in all its brutality." 

The two women looked at each 
other and laughed nervously. The same 
thought had occurred to each. 

"Mr. Allen," said Mrs. Cathewe, de- 
ciding immediately to explain the cause 
of her merriment, "as you entered you 
must have overheard us speak of a Mr. 
Sullivan. You know how eccentric Mr. 
Cathewe is. Well, when I invited you to 
dine this evening I had no idea that this 
husband of mine was going to bring home 
Mr. Sullivan in order to study him at 
171 



THE BEST MAN 

close range, as a possible character in a 
new book he is writing." 

The rector stroked his chin. Caroline, 
observing him shyly, was positive that the 
luster in his eyes was due to suppressed 
laughter. 

"That will be quite a diversion," he 
said, seating himself. What a charming 
profile this girl possessed! Heigh-ho I be- 
tween riches and poverty the chasm grew, 
wide. 

"And we have been amusing ourselves 
by dissecting Mr. Sullivan," added the 
woman with the charming profile. "I 
suggested that if he wore a dress suit it 
would be either too large or too small." 

"Mercy!" exclaimed Mrs. Cathewe, 
rising suddenly as the hall door slammed, 
"I believe he has come already. What- 
ever shall I do, Carol, whatever shall I 
Uo?" in a loud whisper. 
172 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

The rector got up and smiled at Caro- 
line, who returned the smile. In the mat- 
ter of appreciating humor, she and the 
rector stood upon common ground. 

Presently the novelist and his guest en- 
tered. Both he and Mr. SuJivan ap- 
peared to be in the best of spirits, for their 
mouths were twisted in grins. 

"My dear," began Cathewe, "this is 
Mr. Sullivan; Mr. Sullivan, Miss Bod- 
erick and the Reverend Richard Allen, of 
St. Paul's." 

"I am delighted," said Mr. Sullivan, 
bowing. 

There was not a wrinkle in Mr. Sulli- 
van's dress suit; there were no diamond 
studs in his shirt bosom, no watch-chain ; 
just the rims of his cuffs appeared, and 
these were of immaculate linen. His hair 
was black and thick and soft as hair al- 
ways is that is frequently subjected to 
173 



THE BEST MAN 

soap and water. In fact, there was only 
one sign which betrayed Mr. Sullivan's 
profitable but equivocal business in life, 
and this was an ear which somewhat re- 
sembled a withered mushroom. 

Caroliirj was disconcerted; she was 
even embarrassed. This pleasant-faced 
gentleman bowing to her was as far re- 
moved from her preconceived idea of a 
pugilist as the earth is removed from the 
sun. She did not know — as the wise 
writer knows — that it is only pugilists 
who can not fight who are all scarred and 
battered. She saw the rector shake Mr. 
Sullivan's hand. From him her gaze 
roved to Mrs. Cathewe, and the look of 
perplexity on that young matron's face 
caused her to smother the sudden wild de- 
sire to laugh. 

"My dear, I shall leave you to enter- 
tain Mr. Sullivan while I change my 
174 



< ( 



MR. ''SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

clothes;" and Cathewe rushed from the 
room. He was a man who could not hold 
in laughter very successfully. 

"Come over to the fire and warm your- 
self," said the rector pleasantly. The look 
of entreaty in Mrs. Cathewe's eyes could 
not possibly be ignored. 

Mr. Sullivan crossed the room, gazing 
about curiously. 

"I haven't th' slightest idea, ma'am," 
said the famed pugilist, addressing his 
hostess, "what your husband's graft is; 
but I understand he's a literary fellow 
that writes books, an' I suppose he knows 
why he ast me here t' eat." 

Caroline sighed with relief; his voice 
was very nearly what she expected it 
would be. 

"An' besides," continued Mr. Sullivan, 
"I'm kind o' curious myself t' see you 
swells get outside your feed. I ain't stuck 
175 



THE BEST MAN 

on these togs, generally; a man's afraid 
t' breathe hearty." 

Mrs. Cathewe shuddered slightly; Mr. 
Sullivan was rubbing the cold from his 
fungus-like ear. What should she do to 
entertain this man? she wondered. She 
glanced despairingly at Caroline; but 
Caroline was looking at the rector, who 
in turn seemed absorbed in Mr. Sullivan. 
She was without help; telegraphic com- 
munication was cut off, as it were. 

"Do you think it will snow to-night?" 
she asked. 

"It looks like it would," answered Mr. 
Sullivan, with a polite but furtive glance 
at the window. "Though there'll be a 
bigger push out to-morrer if it's clear. 
It's goin' t' be a good fight. D' you ever 
see a scrap, sir?" he asked, turning to the 
rector. 

Caroline wondered if it was the fire or 
176 



<<OTTTT7rnt7>) 



MR. '*SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

the rector's own blood which darkened 
his cheek. 

"I belong to the clergy," said the rector 
softly; "it is our duty not to witness fights, 
but to prevent them." 

"Now^, I say!" remonstrated Mr. Sul- 
livan, "you folks run around in your 
autos, knock down people an' frighten 
horses, so's they run away ; you go out an' 
kill thousands of birds an' deer an' fish, 
an' all that ; an' yet you're th' first t' holier 
when two healthy men pummel each 
other for a livin'. You ain't consistent. 
Whjj th' hardest punch I ever got never 
pained me more'n an hour, an' I took th' 
fat end of th' purse at that. When you're 
a kid, ain't you always quarrelin' an' 
scrappin'? Sure. Sometimes it was with 
reason an' cause, an' again jus' plain love 
of fightin'. Well, that's me. I fight be- 
cause I like it, an' because it pays. Sure. 
177 



THE BEST MAN 

It^s on'y natural for some of us t' fight all 
th' time ; an' honest, I'm dead weary of th' 
way th' papers yell about th' brutal prize- 
fight. If I want t' get my block punched 
ofif, that's my affair; an' I don't see what 
business some old fussies have in inter- 
ferin'." 

"It isn't really the fighting, Mr. Sul- 
livan," replied the rector, who felt com- 
pelled to defend his point of view; "it's 
the rough element which is always 
brought to the surface during these en- 
gagements. Men drink and use profane 
language and wager money." 

"As t' that, I don't say;" and Mr. Sul- 
livan moved his hands in a manner which 
explained his inability to account for the 
transgressions of the common race. 

"What's a block?" whispered Mrs. 
Cathewe into Caroline's ear. 

Caroline raised her eyebrows ; she ha'd 
178 



MR. ^'shifty" SULLIVAN 



almost surijendered to the first natural im- 
pulse, that of raising her hands above her 
head, as she had often seen her brother do 
when faced by an unanswerable question. 

The trend of conversation veered. Mr. 
Sullivan declared that he would never go 
upon the stage, and all laughed. Occa- 
sionally the women ventured timidly to 
offer an observation which invariably 
caused Mr. Sullivan to loose an expansive 
grin. And when he learned that the rec- 
tor was to witness the fight in the capacity 
of a reporter, he enjoyed the knowledge 
hugely. 

Presently Cathewe appeared, and din- 
ner was announced. Mr. Sullivan sat be- 
tween his host and hostess. No, he would 
not have a cocktail nor a highball; he 
never drank. Mrs. Cathewe straightway 
marked him down as a rank impostor. 
Didn't prize-fighters always drink and 
179 



THE BEST MAN, 

carouse and get locked up by the police 
officers? 

"Well, this is a new one on me," Mr. 
Sullivan admitted, as he tasted of his 
caviar and quietly dropped his fork. 
"May I askv^hatit is?" 

"It's Russian caviar. It is like Russian 
literature; one has to cultivate a taste for 
It." The no, elist glanced amusedly at the 
rectbr. .. 

"It reminds me of what happened t' 
me at White Plains a couple of years ago. 
I w^as in trainin' that fall at Mulligan's. 
You've heard of Mulligan; greatest man 
on th' mat in his time. Well, I bucked up 
against French spinach. Says he: 'Eat 
it' Says I, 'I don't like it.' Says he, 'I 
don't care whether you like it or not. I 
don't like your mug, but I have t' put up 
with it. Eat that spinach.' Says I, 'I don't 
see how I can eat it if I don't like it.' 
1 80 



< < O TT T T:"r> XT J > 



MR. "SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

An' an hour after he gives me th' bill, an' 
I'd have had on'y thirty minutes t' get 
out but for th' housekeeper, who patched 
it up. Those were great times. Sure. 
Well, no spinach or caviar in mine. Now 
say, what's th' game? Do you want my 
history, or jus' a scrap or two?" 

"Describe how you won the champion- 
ship from McGonegal," said Cathewe 
eagerly, nodding to the butler to serve the 
oysters. 

Mr. Sullivan toyed with the filigree 
butter-knife, mentally deciding that its 
use was for cutting pie. He cast an 
oblique glance at the immobile coun- 
tenance of the English butler, and 
ahemmed. 

"Well," he began, "it was like 
this. . . . " 

As Mr. Sullivan went on, a series of 
whispered questions and answers was 
i8i 



THE BEST MAN, 

Started between Caroline and the rector. 

Caroline: What does he mean by 
"block"? 

The Rector: His head, I believe. 

Caroline: Oh I 

Mr. Sullivan: There wasn't much 
doin' in th' third round. We fiddled a 
while. On'y once did either of us get t' 
th' ropes ... an' th' bell rang. Th' 
fourth was a hot one; hammer an' tongs 
from th' start off. He hooked me twice 
on th' wind, and I handed him out a jolt 
on th' jaw that put him t' th' mat. . . . 
I had th' best of th' round. 

Caroline: In mercy's sake, what does 
he mean by "slats"? 

The Rector (seized with a slight 
coughing) : Possibly his ribs. 

Caroline: Good gracious! (Whether 
this ejaculation was caused by surprise or 
by the oyster on which she had put more 
182 



MR. ^'shifty" SULLIVAN 

horse-radish than was suited to her palate, 
will always remain a mystery.) 

Mr. Sullivan: We were out' for gore 
th' fift' round. He was gettin' strong on 
his hooks. 

Mrs. Cathewe (interrupting him with 
great timidity) : What do you mean by 
"hooks"? 

Mr. Sullivan: It's a blow like this. 
(Illustrates and knocks over the center- 
piece. Water and flowers spread over the 
table.) I say, now, look at that. Ain't I 
a Mike now, t' knock over th' flower-pot 
like that? 

Cathewe: Nevermind that, Mr. Sulli- 
van. Go on with the fight. 

Mr. Sullivan: Where was I? Oh, yes; 
he put it all over me that round. . . . 
They had counted eight when th' bell 
rang an' saved me. 

Caroline: Hit him on the phonograph! 
183 



THE BEST MAN 

The Rector (reddening) : It is possible 
that he refers to Mr. McGonegal's mouth. 

Caroline: Well, I never! And I've got 
a slangy brother, too, at Harvard. 

(The rector looks gravely at his empty 
oyster-shells.) 

Mr. Sullivan: Things went along 
about even till th' tenth, when I blacked 
his lamps. 

Caroline: Lamps? 

The Rector: Eyes, doubtless. 

Caroline: It's getting too deep for me. 

Mr. Sullivan: The last round I saw 
that I had him goin' all right. In two 
seconds I had burgundy flowin' from his 
trombone, 

(Cathewe leans back in his chair and 
laughs.) 

Mrs. Cathewe (bewiideringly) : Bur- 
gundy? 

Mr. Sullivan (rathev impatiently) : A 
184 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN. 

jolt on th' nose. Well, there was some 
more waltzin', and then a hook an' a 
swing, an' him on th' mat, down an' out. 
I made six thousand, an' on'y got this tin 
ear t' show for my trouble. 

It was fully ten o'clock when the coffee 
was served. Mr. Sullivan may have lost 
not a few "e's" and "g's" in the passing, 
but for all that he proved no small enter- 
tainment ; and when he arose with the re- 
mark that he was "for th' tall pines," both 
ladies experienced an amused regret. 

"Which way do you go?" asked Mr. 
Sullivan, laying his hand on the rector's 
arm. 

"I pass your hotel. I shall be pleased 
to walk with you." 

"I say," suddenly exclaimed Mr. Sulli- 
van, pressing his pudgy fingers into the 
rector's arm, "where did you get this 
185 



THE BEST MSN] 

arm? Why, it is as tough as a railroad 
tie." 

"A course of physical culture," said 
the rector, visibly embarrassed. 

''Physical culture? All right. But 
don't ever get mad at me," laughed Mr. 
Sullivan. "It's as big as a pile-driver." 

The novelist told Mr. Sullivan that he 
was very much obliged for his company. 

"Don't mention it. Drop int' th' fight 
to-morrer night. You'll get more ideas 
there'n you will hearin' me shoot hot air." 

Cathewe looked slyly at his wife. He 
was a man, and more than once he had 
slipped away from the club and taken in 
the last few rounds, and then had re- 
turned home to say what a dull night he 
had had at the club. 

Mrs. Cathewe had her arm lovingly 
around Caroline's waist. All at once she 
felt Caroline start. 

i86 



iMR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

"What is it?" she whispered. 

"Nothing, nothing I" Caroline declared 
quickly. 

But on the way home in her carriage 
Caroline wondered where the Reverend 
Richard Allen, rector of St. Paul's, had 
acquired his tin ear. 



187 



II 



4 ( fl "^ EAR Sis — ^Yours received. Have 
H ■ hunted up the name, and have found 
B ^m that your Reverend Richard Allen 
is an '89 man, one of the best all- 
round men we ever had on the track. He was 
a terror, too, so an old grad tells me. Got kicked 
out in his senior year. It seems that his chum 
and roommate was very deeply in the hole, not 
extravagantly, like yours truly, but by a series of 
hard knocks. Allen had no cash himself. And 
you know when you haven't any money in sight, 
you can't borrow any. One night at the Museum 
(there was a cheap show on) a prize-fighter of- 
fered $300 to any one who would stand up before 
him for five rounds. Allen jumped up on the 
stage and licked the pug to a standstill. He got 
a bad swipe on the ear, however; and if your 
Allen has what they call a tin ear, an ear that 
looks as if my best buUpup had tried to make his 
dinner off it, ecce homo I He paid his mate's 
debts, and then was requested to call on the fac. 
The old ladies told him to pack up. He did. He 
has never returned to college since. But why do 

188 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 



you want to know all about him? They say he 
was a handsome duffer. You know I haven't 
seen him yet, not having been home since last 
Easter time. Now, for Heaven's sake. Sis, don't 
go and get daffy on his Riverince. I've got a 
man in tow for you, the best fellow that ever 
lived. Affectionately, Jack." 

"P. S. — Can't you shove a couple of so*s in your 
next letter to me? The governor's liver wasn't 
in good shape the first of the month." 

Caroline dropped the letter into her 
lap and stared out of the window. It 
was snowing great, soft, melting flakes. 
She did not know whether to laugh or to 
cry, nor what occasioned this impulse to 
do either. So he was a Cambridge man, 
and had been expelled for prize-fighting; 
for certainly it had been prize-fighting, 
even though the motive had been a good 
and manly one. 

"A milksop !" There was no doubt, no 
hesitancy; her laughter rang out fresh 
189 



THE BEST MAN 

and clear. What would her father say 
when he learned the truth? Her next 
thought was, why should the rector pose 
as a lamb, patient and unspeaking, when 
all the time he was a lion? She alone had 
solved the mystery. It was self-control, it 
was power. This discovery filled her 
with a quiet exultation. She was a 
woman, and to unravel a secret was as joy- 
ful a task for her as to invent a fashionable 
hat. 

The bygone rectors had interested her 
little; they had been either pedants, fanat- 
ics, or social drones; while this man had 
gone about his work quietly and modestly. 
He never said: "I visited the poor to- 
day." It was the poor who said: "The 
rector was here to-day with money and 
clothes." But his past he let remain nebu- 
lous ; not even the trustees themselves had 
peered far into it, at least not as far back 
190 



MR. '*SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 



as the Cambridge days. Thus, the ele- 
ment of mystery surrounding him first at- 
tracted her; the man's personality added 
to this. The knowledge that he was a col- 
lege man seemed to place him nearer her 
social level, though she was not a person 
to particularize so long as a man proved 
himself; and the rector had, beyond a 
doubt, proved himself. 

There were dozens of brilliant young 
men following eagerly in her train. They 
rode with her, drove with her, and fought 
for the privilege of playing caddy to her 
game. Yet, while she liked them all, she 
cared particularly for none. The rector, 
being a new species of man, became a 
study. Time and time again she had in- 
vited him to the Country Club; he al- 
ways excused himself on the ground that 
he was taking a course of reading such as 
to demand all his spare time in the day. 
191 



THE BEST MAN 

One morning she had been riding alone, 
and had seen him tramping across coun- 
try. In the spirit of fun she took a couple 
of fences and caught up with him. He 
had appeared greatly surprised, even em- 
barrassed, for her woman's eye had been 
quick to read. She had rallied him upon 
his stride. He had become silent. And 
this man had "jumped upon the stage and 
licked the pug to a standstill !" 

"Carol, are you there?" 

Caroline started and hid the letter. 
She arose and admitted her father. 

"James says that you received a letter 
this afternoon. Was it from the boy? 
Begging for money? Well, don't you 
dare to send it to him. The ragamuffin 
has overdrawn seven hundred dollars 
this month. What's he think I am, a 
United States Steel Corporation?" 

"He has asked me for one hundred 
192 



(<cuTiTi«-«r'> 



MR. "SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

dollars, and I am going to send It to the 
poor boy to-night." 

"Oh, you are, are you? Who's bringing 
up the scalawag, you or I ?" 

"You are trying to, daddy, but I believe 
he's bent on bringing himself up." She 
ran her fingers through his hair. "I know 
the weather's bad, daddy, but don't be 
cross. Come over to the piano and I'll 
play for you." 

"I don't want any music," gruffly. 

"Come," dragging him. 

"That's the way; I have no authority 
in this house. But, seriously, Carol, the 
boy's spending it pretty fast, and it will 
not do him a bit of good. I want to make 
a man out of him, not a spendthrift. Play 
that what-d'you-call-it from Chopin." 

"The Berceuse?^^ seating herself at the 
piano. 

iThc twilight of winter was fast settling 
193 



THE BEST MAN 

down. The house across the way began 
to glow at various windows. Still she 
played. From Chopin she turned to 
Schumann, from Schumann to Rubin* 
stein, back to Chopin's polonaise and the 
nocturne in E flat major. 

"You play those with a livelier spirit 
than usual," was the general's only com- 
ment. How these haunting melodies took 
him back to the past, when the girl's 
mother played them in the golden court- 
ing days! He could not see the blush his 
comment had brought to his daughter's 
cheek. "My dear, my dear!" he said, with 
great tenderness, sliding his arm around 
her waist, "I know that I'm cross at times, 
but I'm only an old barking dog; don't do 
any harm. I'll tell you what, if my leg's 
all right next Saturday I'll ride out to the 
Country Club with you, and we'll have 
tea together." 

194 



< < C TT T T? -r V > » 



MR. '^SHIFTY'' SULLIVAN 

She leaned toward him and kissed him. 
"Daddy, what makes you think so meanly; 
of the rector? I was thinking of him 
when you came in.'* 

"I don^t think meanly of him; but, 
hang it, Carol, he always says 'Yes' when 
I want him to say *No,' and vise versa. 
He's too complacent. I like a man who's 
a human being to kick once in a while, a 
man who's got some fight in him. . . . 
What are you laughing at, you torment?" 

"At something which just occurred jto 
me. There goes the gong for dinner. I 
am ravenous." 

"By the way, I forgot to tell you what 
I saw in the evening edition of the Post. 
Your parson is going to report the prize- 
fight to-night. He'll be frightened out of 
his shoes. I'm going up to the club ; go- 
ing to play a few rubbers. It'll make me 
forget my grumbling leg. You run over 

195 



THE BEST MAN 

to Cathcwc's or telephone Mrs. Cathcwc 
to run over here." 

"Can't you stay in to-night? I don't 
want anybody but you." 

"But IVe half promised; besides, I'm 
sort of blue. I need the excitement." 

"Very well; I'll telephone Nan. Mr. 
Cathewe will probably go to that awful 
fight in the interests of his new book. 
She'll come." 

"Cathewe's going to the fight, you say? 
Humph !" The general scratched his car 
thoughtfully. 



196 



Ill 

THE auditorium was a great barn- 
like building which had been 
erected originally for the purpose 
of a roller-skating rink. Nowadays the 
charity bazaars were held there, the balls, 
political mass-meetings, amateur dramat- 
ics, and prize-fights. 

Cathewe, as he gazed curiously around, 
pictured to himself the contrast between 
the Thanksgiving ball of the past week 
and the present scene, and fell into his 
usual habit of philosophizing. His seat 
was high up in the gallery. What faces 
he saw through the blue and choking haze 
of smoke ! Saloon keepers, idlers, stunted 
youth, blase men about town, with a 
sprinkling of respectable business mea, 
197 



THE BEST MAN 

who ever and anon cast hasty and guilty 
glances over their shoulders, and when 
caught would raise a finger as if to say: 
"You rogue, what are you doing here?" — 
these and other sights met his interested 
eye. Even he confessed to himself that 
his presence here was not all due to the 
gathering of color for his new book. Self- 
analysis discovered to him that the animal 
in him was eagerly awaiting the arrival 
of the fighters. Such is human nature. 

Down below he saw the raised plat- 
form, strongly protected by ropes. 
Around this were the reporters' tables, the 
telegraph operators' desks, a few chairs 
for the privileged friends of the press, and 
pails, towels and sponges. Yes, there was 
the rector, sitting at one of the reporters' 
tables, erect in his chair, his gaze bent 
upon his paper pad, apparently oblivious 
to his strange surroundings. Cathewe 
198 



C < C TT T T7 .T> V ' > 



iSJR. '*SHIFry SULLIVAN 

wondered what was going on in that some- 
what mystifying mind. He certainly 
would have been surprised could he have 
read. 

In fact, the rector was going over again 
his own memorable battle in Boston some 
ten years ago. He was thinking how it 
had changed his whole career, how it had 
swerved him from the bar to the pulpit. 

Ah, to be within the magic circle of 
her presence, to be within sight and touch 
all his life, sometimes to hear her voice 
lifted in song, the smooth, white fingers 
bringing to life the poetry of sound! He 
had ceased to lie to himself. He loved, 
with all his hearty with all his soul. He 
had given up; he had surrendered com- 
pletely; but she was never to know. Even 
at this moment poverty took him to the 
mount and showed him the abyss between 
him and his heart's desire. He was 
199 



THE BEST MAN 

aroused from his dreams by a sudden 
commotion, a subdued murmur. Mr. 
Sullivan's antagonist, dressed in a gaudy 
sky-blue bath-robe, was crawling under 
the ropes, followed by his seconds. The 
murmur grew into a prolonged cheer 
when Mr. Sullivan shortly followed in a 
bath-robe, even richer in hues. 

The reporters shifted their writing- 
pads, lighted fresh cigars, and drew their 
legs under the tables. The sporting editor 
of the Post turned to the rector. 

"I'll tip you off on the technicalities of 
the scrap," he said. "All you need to do 
is to watch the men and describe what 
they do in your own way." 

"Thank you," replied the rector. He 
was calm. When Mr. Sullivan nodded 
pleasantly, he smiled. 

The men in the ring threw aside their 
bath-robes, and stood forth in all the 
200 



<<«•»¥ » W V«> 



MR. **SHIFty" SULLIVAK 

splendofr of their robust physiques. A 
short, pompous man, wearing a watch- 
chain which threatened to disconcert his 
physical balance, stepped to the ropes and 
held up his hand. Silence suddenly fell 
upon two thousand men. 

"Th' preliminary is off; th' 'Kid' re- 
fuses to go on because th' 'Dago' didn't 
weigh in as agreed. Th' main bout will 
now take place. Mr. Sullivan t' th' right, 
an' Mr. McManus t' th' left." The pomp- 
ous man took out a greasy telegram from 
his pocket, and said: "Lanky Williams 
challenges th' winner fer a purse an' a side 
bet of fi' thousan'." 

He was cheered heartily. Nobody 
cared about the preliminary "go" ; it was 
Sullivan and McManus the spectators 
had paid their money to see. 

The rector recalled the scenes in Quo 
Vadis, and shrugged his shoulders. Hu- 

20I 



THE BEST MAN 

man nature never changes; only politics 
and fashions. He himself was vaguely 
conscious of a guilty thrill as he saw the 
two men step from their corners and 
shake hands. 

As this is a story not of how Mr. 
"Shifty" Sullivan won his battle from 
Mr. McManus, but of how the rector of 
St. Paul's nearly lost his, I shall not dwell 
upon the battle as it was fought by rounds. 
Let it suffice that the crisis came during 
the twelfth round. Sullivan was having 
>ihe best of this round, though in the four 
previous he had been worsted. The men 
came together suddenly, and there was 
some rough in-fighting. The pompous 
man, who was the referee, was kept on the 
jump. One could hear the pad-pad of 
blows and the scrape-scrape of shoes on 
the resined mat, so breathless were the 
spectators. The boxers became tangled. 

202 



MR. '^SHIFTY '^'^ SULLIVAN. 

. "Foul, foul!" 

The voice rang out strong and distinct. 
It was not the referee's voice, for the 
referee himself looked angrily down 
v/hence the voice came. Sullivan, his face 
writhed in agony, was clinging desperate- 
ly to his opponent. 

"A foul blow!" 

Pandemonium. Everybody was yell- 
ing, half not knowing why. 

The seconds and trainers were clamber- 
ing into the ring. The referee separated 
the boxers. They rushed at each other 
furiously. The seconds stepped in be- 
tween. A general mix-up followed, dur- 
ing which the pompous man lost his silk 
hat. 

The reporter for the Post pulled the 
rector's coat tails, and the rector sank into 
his chair, pale and terrified. He had for- 
gotten! Carried away by his old love of 
203 



THE BEST MAN 

clean fighting, by his love of physical coft- 
tcsts, he had forgotten, forgotten! 

"Foul! It was a foul!" 

"Ye-al Yc-a! Foul blow!" 

"Bully ferth' parson!" 

"Sullivan, Sullivan!" 

"McManus!" 

"Foul, foul! Trow out th' referee!" 

"Give th' deacon a show fer his 
money!" 

These and a thousand other cries rose 
in the vicinity of the rector. Those re- 
porters whose city editors had not thought 
of the stroke of sending a minister of the 
gospel to report the fight were delighted. 
Here was a story worth forty fights, a 
story to delight thousands and thousands 
who looked upon St. Paul's as a place 
where only the rich might worship. 

"I declare the fight a draw, an' all 
bets off!" howled the referee, wiping the 
204 



< ( O TT T « 1* TT > ) 



MR. *'SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

dust from his damaged hat, which he had 
at length recovered. 

The rector rose to move down the aisle 
to the entrance. He felt morally and 
physically crushed. All this would be in 
the newspapers the next morning. He 
was disgraced ; for everybody would ask, 
"How should he know what a foul blow 
was?" It was terribly bitter, after having 
struggled so long. Presently he became 
aware that men, reeking with cigar smoke 
and liquors, were talking loudly to him, 
even cursing him. He caught some words 
about "makin' us lose our bets, when we 
come all th' way from N'York." 

A hand came into contact with his 
cheek, and the sting of it ran like fire 
through his veins. The wrath at his moral 
defeat broke down the dikes of his self- 
control ; the f^ry which is always quickly 
provoked by i^ysical pain in the animal- 
205 



THE BEST MAN 

ity of man, swept aside his prudence. The 
man who struck him was seen to rise 
bodily and fall crumpled among the seats. 
The man's friends — there were four in 
number — recovering from their momen- 
tary surprise, attacked the rector swiftly, 
and not without a certain conformity. 

What followed has become history. 
Even Sullivan and his opponent forgot 
their animosity for the time being, and 
leaned eagerly over the ropes. Far back 
in the surging crowd several police 
helmets could be discerned, but they made 
little progress. The rector in his tightly 
fitting frock was at a disadvantage, but 
his wonderful vigor and activity stood 
him in good stead. Quick as a cat he 
leaped from this side to that, dealing his 
blows with the rapidity of a piston-rod 
and almost as terrible in effect. Once he 
went down; but, like Antaeus, the touch 
206 



MR. **SHIFTy" SULLIVAN 

of earth revived him and doubled his 
strength. 

Men, in the mad effort to witness this 
battle, trod on one another's toes, hats 
were crushed, coats were torn, even blows 
were struck. They stood on chairs, on 
tables, yelling and cheering. This was a 
fight that was a fight. Faking had no part 
in it; there was no partiality of ref- 
erees. When the police finally arrived it 
was all over. The rector was brushing his 
hat, while Cathewe, who had dashed 
down-stairs at the first sound of the rec- 
tor's voice, was busy with the rector's coat. 

*Want t' appear against 'cm?" asked 
(Mie of the officers. 

"No, no! Let them go," cried the rec- 
tor. "Cathewe, take me out, please ; take 
me home." His hands shook as he put on 
his hat. He was very white. The knuckles 
®f his left hand were raw and bleeding. 
207 



THE BEST MAN 

The police finally opened a pathway la 
the cheering crowd, and through this 
Cathewe and the rector disappeared. 
Outside, Cathewe hailed a carriage. 

"Cathewe, I have absolutely and post* 
lively ruined my career." 

The rector sank back among the cush- 
ions, overwhelmed. His voice was uneven 
and choked. 

"Nonsense I" cried Cathewe. 'What 
else could you do?" 

"I could have passed by the man who 
struck me." 

"Oh, pshaw I A man can not help be- 
ing human simply because he wears the 
cloth. It was the bullicst fight I ever 
saw. It was magnificent! They weren't 
in it at any time. And you walloped four 
of 'em, and one was an ex-pugilist It was 
great." 

"Don't!" 

208 



(<OTTTT7rn-(7') 



MR. "SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

"They'll call you the fighting parson." 

"I shall resign to-morrow. I must be- 
gin life all over again. It wUl be very 
hard." 

"Resign nothing I By the way, I saw 
General Boderick in the crowd." 

^^Boderick? Oh, I must hurry. He 
must have my resignation before he has a 
chance to demand it." 

"Don't you worry about him. I saw 
him waving his cane like mad when you 
got up from the floor and smashed that 
second-ward ruffian. He won't dare to 
say anything. His daughter thinks that he 
went up to the club." 

"I shall resign. I am determined upon 
that" 

"We'll all have something to say re- 
garding that'' 

"But the newspapers to-naorrow! It 
win be frightful." 

209 



THE BEST MAN, 

"My dear fellow, I am about to visit 
each in turn, and you can remain in the 
carriage. I'll take upon myself to fix it 
up so that it will receive scarcely any 
mention at all." 

''My eternal gratitude is yours if you 
can accomplish that." There was a note 
of hope in the rector's voice. 

It was after eleven o'clock when Cath- 
ewe deposited the rector before the par- 
sonage. Cathewe was a great favorite 
with the newspaper men, and he had had 
no trouble at all in suppressing the sensa- 
tional part of the affair. 

As for the rector, he sank wearily into 
his study chair and buried his face in his 
hands. He had won one fight, but he had 
lost another of far more importance. 
Somehow, he had always just reached the 
promised land to feel the earth slip from 
under his feet. He was a failure The 

210 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

only thing he had to be thankful for was 
that he stood alone in his disgrace. His 
father and mother were dead. Where 
should he go from here? He hadn't the 
slightest idea. He certainly would never 
don the cloth again, for this disgrace 
would follow him w^herever he went. He 
was unfitted for mercantile life; he loved 
outdoors too well. If only he possessed 
the talent of Cathewe, who could go any- 
where and live anywhere, without alter- 
ing his condition! Well, he would go to 
the far West ; he would put his geological 
learning into action ; and by the time the 
little money he had saved was gone, he 
would have something to do. 

Ah, but these things did not comprise 
the real bitterness in his heart. He had 
stepped outside the circle, stepped down 
below the horizon of her affairs. True, 
his wildest dreams had never linked his 

211 



THE BEST MAN 

life with hers ; but the nearness to her wa« 
as life to him. And now all that wad 
over. 

He reached for his writing-pad and 
wrote his resignation. It was a frank let- 
ter, straightforward and manly. He 
sealed it and stole out and deposited it in 
the letter-box just in time for the night 
collector to take it up. He had burned his 
bridges. They would be only too glad to 
get rid of him. He was absently straight- 
ening the papers on his table, when a 
small blue envelope attracted his atten- 
tion. A faintness seized him as he recog- 
nized the delicate handwriting. It was an 
invitation, couched in the most friendly 
terms, to dine with General and Mise 
Boderick the following evening. If only 
he had seen this note earlier I He bent his 
head on his arms, and there was no sound 
save the wind in the chimney. 

212 



MR. "SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

"The rector, sir," announced the gen- 
eral's valet. 

"Show him in here, James, and light 
up," said the general. 

When the rector entered, the general 
greeted him cheerfully. 

"Sit down, sit down, and let us talk it 
all over," the general began. "I have not 
yet turned over your resignation to the 
trustees ; and yet, in my opinion, this res- 
ignation is the best thing possible under 
the circumstances. You were not exactly 
cut out for a minister, though you have 
done more good to the poor than a dozen 
of your predecessors. I wish to apologize 
to you for some thoughts I have harbored 
against you. Wait a minute, wait a min- 
ute," as the rector raised a protesting 
hand. "I have called you a milksop be- 
cause you always accepted the trustees* 
rebuffs with a meek and lowly spirit. But 
213 



THE BEST MAN 

when I saw you lick half a dozen ruffians 
last night (yes, I was there; and while 
I'm a churchman, I am a man and a sol- 
dier besides), I knew that I had done 
you an injustice. By the way, are you re- 
lated to the late Chaplain Allen of the 
St Regiment?" 

"He was my father," wonderingly. 

"Humph!" 

"It was out of regard for him that I 
became a divinity student." 

"Parsons sons are all alike. I never 
saw a parson's son who wasn't a limb of 
the Old Scratch. You became a divinity 
student after you left Harvard?" 

The rector sent his host a startled 
glance. 

"Oh, I have heard all about that epi- 
sode; and I like you all the better for it. 
You should have been a soldier. We used 
to call your father the 'fighting parson.' 
214 



MR. **SHIFTY" SULLIVAN 

Now, I've a proposition to make to you. 
Do you know anything about mining? 
anything about metals and geology?" 

"Yes, sir; I have had a large reading 
upon those subjects." The rector's heart 
was thumping. 

"A practical knowledge?" 

"As practical as it is possible for a man 
in my position to acquire." 

"Very good. It is a sorry thing to see a 
young man with misdirected energies. 
I'll undertake to direct yours. In January 
I want you to go to Mexico for me." 

"Mexico?" 

"Mexico. I have large mining interests 
there which need the presence of a man 
who can fight, both mentally and phys- 
ically. I will pay you a good salary, 
and if you win, some stock shall go with 
the victory. Now don't think that I'm do- 
ing this out of sympathy for you. I am 
215 



THE BEST MAN 

looking at you from a purely commercial 
point of view. Will you accept?" 

"With all my heart," with a burst 6fi 
enthusiasm. 

"That's the way to talk. We'll arrange 
about the salary after dinner. Now, go 
down to the music-room. You will find 
Miss Boderick there. She will manage to 
entertain you till dinner time; and while 
you are about it, you may thank her in- 
stead of me. I shouldn't have thought of 
you but for her. Don't worry over what 
the newspapers have said. In six months 
this affair will have blown over, and you 
will have settled the mining dispute one 
way or the other. You will excuse me 
now, as I have some important letters to 
write. And, mind you, if you breathe 
a word that I was at the fight last 
night ..." 

So the Reverend Richard Allen stole 
216 



( < o TT T T? nt tr ' > 



MR. *'SHIFTY'' SULLIVAN 

quietly down to the music-room. It was 
dark; and he entered softly and sat down 
in a comer at the farther end of the room, 
so as not to disturb the musician. In all 
the years of his life, the life which num- 
bered thirty variegated years, he had 
never known such happiness. 

In the study above the general chuckled 
as he wrote, and murmured from time to 
time the word : "Milksop I" 



217 



WILLIARD sat down to his 
evening meal. He was later 
than usual. The dining-room 
of the boarding-house was deserted, save 
for the presence of the maid servant, who 
was sweeping the crumbs from the table- 
cloth. His entrance was acknowledged 
by a sour smile. Williard was a sort of 
pariah to the narrow minds of that house- 
hold, who could not associate greatness of 
soul with failure and poverty. 

"You won't get much," said the maid. 
"We are too busy with to-morrow's 
Christmas dinner." 
To-morrow's Christmas dinner! Wil- 
218 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

Hard drew the bread-dish toward him 
rather mechanically. To-morrow's 
Christmas dinner! It was Christmas Eve 
to-night, and he had forgotten ! All that 
day he had wondered why every face 
looked so eager and bright in the office, 
why the jostling crowds in the streets 
were so merry and good-humored. To- 
morrow was Christmas, and he had for- 
gotten ! 

The maid grumblingly fetched what 
remained of the supper. The hanging 
lamp sputtered for lack of oil to feed 
upon; and all the food tasted vaguely of 
kerosene. But Williard made no com- 
plaint; he was hungry. To-morrow's 
Christmas dinner! 

He was tired. Great names had danced 
before his eyes that day: names resound- 
ing the fickle world's applause and the 
jingle of her inconsiderate largess. No^ 
219 



THE BEST MAN 

that he envied them, no; rather that they 
taught him to despair. In the daytime he 
read proof in the attic of a large publish- 
ing house ; this was existence,, it was bread 
and butter. But at night, in his little 
hall bedroom, where the clamors of the 
city streets sounded murmurous and in- 
distinct, he still clung to the fragments of 
early dreams. His verses and stories, 
lofty and proud, lacked something, for 
they found no entrance to the garden of 
fame, which is at best full of false flowers 
and spurious scents. 

For ten years he had striven to attain; 
and he had failed. He had come to New 
York, as thousands of others had come, 
with hope and her thousand stars, to see 
them fade away one by one from the fir- 
mament of his dreams. The world has 
no patience with failure, no treasures for 
the obscure defeat. Ah, to see one's own 
220 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

people, dressed in clear, beautiful type, 
move across the white pages, from mar- 
gin to margin, thinking, acting, speaking! 
To unravel the scheme of life, with its 
loves, ambitions and revenges — ^was there 
any rapture, any pleasure, half so fine? 

The harsh voice of the maid brought 
him out of his idle dream: for to be a 
poet is to dream and to suffer. 

"There's a letter under your door," 
said the girl. "Didn't know you were 
coming home to supper, so I didn't put 
it under your plate." 

"Thank you." 

"I guess you've struck an heiress ; that 
letter smells of sachet powder," she add- 
ed, sailing through the swinging door to 
the kitchen. 

Williard folded his napkin and rose. 
Christmas Eve! Where were the old 
days in the little white village, the straw 

221 



THE BEST MAN 

rides, the candy pulls, the great logs in 
the fireplace? Where had youth gone so 
suddenly? He climbed the two flights of 
stairs to his room, struck a match, and 
knelt before the door. Yes, there was a 
letter. He held it to his nose and inhaled 
the delicate odor of violets. A thrill 
passed through him, a thrill that was a 
mixture of joy, sorrow, love, bitterness 
and regret. 

He unlocked the door, entered the 
room and lighted the gas. How well he 
knew the stroke of each letter! How 
many times in the old days had that feath- 
ery tracing brought cheer and comfort to 
him! And now she was gone; out of his 
meager circle she had passed for ever. 
Riches! What a fortress! What a para- 
pet to scale! What a barrier! The 
mighty dollar now bastioned and senti- 
neled her as the drab granite and men-at- 

222 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

arms had surrounded the unhappy prin- 
cesses of feudal times. 

From time to time he had read of her ; 
this duke or that prince was following 
her about, from resort to resort. She had 
written once, but he had not had the cour- 
age to answer that letter. Paris, London, 
Berlin ! Her beauty and her wealth had 
conquered each city in its turn. Heigh- 
ho ! He held the letter as a lover holds a 
woman's hand: dreamily, dim-eyed, mo- 
tionless. Finally he broke the seal. 

Dear John : 

Home again ! Near to Mother Earth again, to 
the old habits, old longings, old friends. I am 
never going away again. Now, John, I am giving 
a little Christmas Eve dinner to-night, informally, 
to five literary celebrities (four who are knowa 
and one who will be), and I want you more than 
any one else. Why ? Well, you are a staff of oak 
to lean upon — sound and sturdy and impervious 
to the storms. I want visions of the old days, and 
somehow they will not come back vividly unless 

223 



THE BEST MAN 

you Kelp me to conjure them. Do you remember 
souviens-toif . . . But never mind. I'll ask 
the question of you when we meet. No excuses, 
John, no previous engagements. If you have an 
excuse, destroy it ; an engagement, break it. This 
is a command. If you do not come I shall never 
forgive you. What do you care if the celebrities 
have never heard of you ? I am sure that not one 
of them is your peer at heart and mind. I am 
tired, John, tired of false praises and flattery, tired 
of worldly things ; and somehow your voice is go- 
ing to rest me. Come at half after eight. Nell. 

Home again ! She was home ! A diz- 
ziness fell upon him for a space, and all 
things grew blurred and indistinct. When 
the vapor passed he returned the letter to 
its envelope, opened a drawer in his bu- 
reau, and brought forth an old handker- 
chief case. In it there were withered 
flowers, scraps of ribbon, a broken fan, 
and packets of old letters. He took out 
one of the packets, raised the ribbon 
(torn from some gown of hers), and slid 
224 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

under this latest letter, which would 
probably be the last. 

Yes, he would go. And if the celebri- 
ties loosed their covert and fatuous smiles 
when his back was turned, so be it. His 
poverty was clean and honorable. He 
dressed slowly, and once he gazed into the 
mirror. The face he saw there was not 
inspiring, lined and hollowed as it was; 
but its pallor lent a refinement to it, that 
tender, proud refinement which describes 
a lofty soul, full of gentleness and nobil- 

From time to time he approached 
Ihe window. How the snow whirled, 
eddied, sank, and whirled again! The 
arc lamps became luminous clouds. He 
looked at his shoes. Could he afford a 
cab? And yet, could he afford to appear 
before her, his shoes wet, his clothes 
damp with snow? He decided in favor 
225 



THE BEST MAN 

af the cab. It was Christmas Eve; a lit- 
tle luxury would not be wrong. 

By-and-by he stepped out of the board- 
ing-house into the storm. Clouds of moist 
feathery particles surged over him, and 
crept inside his rusty velvet collar. Sud- 
denly he discovered a handsome coupe 
standing in front. The footman was walk- 
ing up and down while the driver beat 
his hands across his breast. Williard did 
not understand what this elegant equi- 
page was doing in such a street. Even as 
he cogitated, the footman descried him 
and approached. 

"Beg pardon, sir; Mr. Williard?" he 
inquired. 

"Yes, I am Mr. Williard," was the 
wondering answer. 

"Then we are just in time, sir!" The 
footman ran to the coupe and opened the 
door respectfully. 

226 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

"You have made a mistake, my man," 
said Williard. "I did not order — " 

"We are from Miss Wycklift's," said 
the footman. 

Her carriage! And she had sent it to 
his boarding-house for fear he might slip 
past I 

"Are you certain?" he asked, still in 
doubt. 

"If you are Mr. Williard there isn't 
a particle of doubt, sir." The tone was 
perfectly respectful, and did more to de- 
termine Williard than anything else. 

"Very well," he said. 

He entered the luxurious carriage and 
the door slammed behind him. Present- 
ly he was on the way to see the one woman 
in all the world. Her carriage! What a 
delicate bit of charity it was, savoring of 
a thoughtful mind and a warm heart! 
She knew, then, of his continued poverty 
227 



THE BEST MAN 

and wished to save him the embarrass- 
ment of going to a dinner in a surface car. 
There was not the least hint of patronage 
in the act; it was simply one of those fine 
and thoughtful impulses of which only a 
noble woman is capable. He recalled the 
first night he had taken her to the opera. 
There had been no other woman half so 
lovely — he had thought only of her. Fool 
that he was to surrender to this idle 
dream : but oh ! it had been go sweet. 

There was a jar, and the carriage and 
Williard's reverie came to a sudden 
pause. The door opened and the foot- 
man's head appeared. 

"Here we are, sir!" 

Williard, still dazed, alighted. 'He 
mounted the steps to the door, and with 
no little timidity he pushed the electric 
button. Riches ! How the hateful word 
buzzed in his ears! 

228 



II 

A PRIM little maid opened the 
door. She took his hat and 
^ coat, and directed him to the 
warm and cozy library. As he saw no 
one about he believed that he had com- 
mitted the unpardonable offense of com- 
ing too early. It was so long since he had 
been "out." He wandered among the 
bookcases and soon forgot where he was, 
for he possessed the poet's enthusiasm 
for rare books. The atmosphere seemed 
spirituous of Balzac, Thackeray, Dumas, 
Dickens, Scott, Hugo and all the tender 
poets he loved so well. And here, right 
under his hand, was a rare copy of Tris- 
tram Shandy. Dear, guileless old Uncle 
229 



THE BEST MAN 

Toby! And then he became conscious of 
a Presence. 

He turned, and beheld her standing in 
the doorway. Beautiful, beautiful! The 
ivory pallor of her complexion, the 
shadowy wine of her hair, her brilliant 
eyes, the glistening whiteness of her neck 
and arms! He stood like stone, incapable 
of animation. Then he took in a deep 
breath : he wished to possess absolute con- 
trol over himself before he touched her 
hand. Oh, he needed no fire to warm his 
veins, the blood of which gushed into his 
brain like the floods of spring torrents! 

"John!" she cried. 

She floated toward him, her hands 
outstretched, a smile of welcome on her 
lips. He touched her hands with some 
uncertainty. It was all so like a dream. 

**So you are home again?" he said, find- 
ing only this commonplace question 
230 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

among all the beautiful phrases he had 
invented for her benefit. 

"And I am glad to be home, John; 
glad. I knew you would come." 

"How in the world could I help it?" 
smiling. "It was very kind of you to 
send your carriage. A carriage is a lux- 
ury in which I do not often indulge. I 
couldn't invent any excuse ; I had no en- 
gagement. Besides, I would have come 
anyway." 

She laughed, and drew two chairs to 
the blazing grate and motioned him to be 
seated. 

"Do you know," he began, "but for 
your note I might have forgotten all 
about its being Christmas Eve? To what 
terrible depths a man falls to be able to 
confess such a sacrilege! But a lonely 
man forgets the customs of his youth. 
There is no Christmas spirit where there 
231 



THE BEST MAN 

arc no children, no family ties. I'm a 
hermit." 

"Tell me all about yourself, John," 
she urged, cleverly seating herself so that 
she might see him easily, while he, to see 
her, would have to turn his head. 

"There isn't much to say. I've just 
gone right on making a failure." 

"There is no such thing as failure, 
John. Failure means effort, and effort is 
never failure." 

"That is a pretty way of putting it. 
Well, then, let me say that I am still un- 
successful. Fame has knocked on my 
door with soft gloves, and I have not 
heard her; and Fortune never had me on 
her visiting list." He stared into the fire. 

He was quite unconscious of her mi- 
nute examination. How changed he was, 
poor boy! He was not growing old; he 
was aging. What had wrought thia 
232 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

change? Work? A long series of de- 
feats? Unrewarded toil? She leaned 
back in her chair, and the light in her 
eyes would have blinded Williard had 
he turned just then. 

^What have you been doing this long 
year?" he asked presently. 

"Wanderlust I have flitted from place 
to place, always dissatisfied." 

"Dissatisfied — ^you?" 

"Yes, John. To be truly unhappy is to 
5e rich and unhappy. It is the hope of 
some time being rich that dulls the un- 
happiness of the poor. Money buys only 
inanimate things." 

"I have heard of you sometimes." 

"What have you heard?" 

"There was a prince or duke, I forget 
which." 

"He wanted to marry me," lightly. 

"And you?" 

233 



THE BEST MAN 

"It was amusing. Some busybody 
would always manage to introduce me 
as the rich Miss Wycklift; and then the 
comedy would begin. Perhaps I was 
spiteful ; but I knew that it was only my 
money." 

"Have you ever looked in your mir- 
ror?" Williard asked naively. 

"I spend a part of the day before it," 
she confessed. 

"But money Is not everything. It is 
quite possible that these men loved you 
for your own sake." 

"Loved for one's own sake," mused the 
girl. "Yes, that is how I would have it. 
But how in the world is a rich girl going 
to tell? I am superstitious. For three or 
four years I have been carrying this little 
amulet," she said, holding out for his in- 
spection a silver, thimble-like trinket. 
"It represents St. Joseph, the patron saint 

234 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

of spinsters. An old French nurse gave 
it to me, and said that if I offered pray- 
ers to St. Joseph I should some day find 
the man I loved and who loved me. I 
do not want to be a spinster." 
"That is a graceful sentiment." 
"Not wanting to be a spinster?" 
"Oh, that is not only graceful but com- 
mendable," smiling. Then he added 
gravely: "Have your prayers been an- 
swered?" 
"Yes." 
Silence. 

"Well?" he said, with the slightest 
tremor. 

"Only he hasn't said anything yet." 
He moved restlessly. It was all so sad. 
Yet it was best so. Once he knew her to 
be beyond his reach he could bring to an 
end his foolish dream. 

"I wonder how I shall begin to tell you 

235 



THE BEST MAN 

my romance," she resumed. "Society has 
done so many evil things in the name of 
formality. It has laid down impossible 
and inhuman rules, destroying freedom 
of thought and action. To these rules we 
must conform or be ostracized. Might a 
woman tell a man she loves him, John?" 

"That depends wholly upon her 
knowledge that he loves her." 

"So if a woman knows that a man loves 
her she may, in the pursuit of happiness, 
tell that man?" 

"I see no reason why not. To love is 
natural. Love is stronger than logic, 
stronger than formality. But this should 
always be borne in mind : for a woman to 
propose to a man, the man must be her 
equal in all things — wealth of mind and 
wealth of purse." 

"Oh, now you are going back to the 
conventionality of things," she protested. 
236 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

"How I hate conventional mediocrity! 
I have hated it ever since I came to this 
horrid city. Don't you sometimes long 
for the old days, John: the sermons in 
stones, the good in everything?" 

"Yes, sometimes." 

"Well, I am going back to the old vil- 
lage in the spring. John," softly, "why 
didn't you answer my letter?" 

"The little orbit around which I take 
my flight could scarce interest you," 
lamely. "There were princes and dukes 
in your train, and great fetes, and bewil- 
dering cities besides." 

"It hurt," she said simply. 

"Hurt? Have I hurt you?" the re- 
pressed tenderness in his voice shaking 
him. "Oh, if I had known that you 
really wanted to hear from me !" 

"And why should I not? Were we not 
boy and girl together? And you always 

237 



THE BEST MAN 

wrote such charming letters, cheerful 
and hopeful and sunshiny. There never 
was any worldliness, nor cynicism. I 
have kept all your letters; and even now 
I find myself returning to them, as one 
returns to old friends." 

He clasped and unclasped his hands 
nervously. 

"Cheerful and hopeful and sunshiny," 
she went on. "The man I love is like 
that. He is good and cheerful and brave. 
Nobody ever hears him complain. But 
he is poor, John, dreadfully poor; and 
what makes it so hard, he is dreadfully 
proud. So I must put my own pride 
underfoot and tell him that he is wrong 
to spoil two lives, simply because I am 
rich and he is poor. And if he rejects me 
I shall throw away this little amulet, and 
lose faith in everything." 

Williard had nothing to say. Rather 
238 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

he saw himself once more in his little hall 
bedroom, his face buried in packets of 
old letters. 

"Dinner is served." The butler ap- 
peared. 

Williard rose. 

"Come, sir," she said as the butler went 
out. 

Somehow her hand slid comfortably 
into his and she guided him through the 
hall. The touch of her hand was ecstasy. 

"There was a time when you used to 
kiss my hand," she said. 

With the forgotten gallantry of olden 
times suddenly returned, he bent his head 
and kissed the hand in his, to hide his 
dimming eyes! 

They then entered the dining-room. 
Covers had been laid for six. There was 
a candle at each plate, but upon four of 
the plates rested books! The poet looked 

239 



THE BEST MAN 

at the girl : ah, the brave and merry eyes 
that met his I 

"Permit me, Mr. Williard," she said, 
making a courtesy, "to introduce you to 
the celebrities. Yonder is Mr. Thack- 
eray, and next to him is Mr. Dickens; on 
the opposite side are MM. de Balzac and 
Dumas. Behold Mr. Esmond and Mr. 
Copperfield, the kindly Cousin Pons and 
the brave D'Artagnan! Ah, John, I was 
so afraid that you might invent an excuse 
that I took to this little subterfuge. Do 
you forgive me?" 

"I would have come anyway." 

"Why?" 

"Because." 

"That is a woman's answer." 

"Well, because I wanted to see you." 

"That is better." 

What a fine dinner it was I With that 
tact of which only a woman of the world 
240 



THE GIRL AND THE POET 

is capable she drew him out by degrees. 
He became animated, merry, witty; all 
the channels of his broadly educated 
mind loosed their currents. He was the 
poet and the man of letters. 

"But what would you do in my place, 
John?" she asked finally. 

"As to what?" 

"As to the man whose poverty keeps 
him outside my gates; this man I love, 
whose pride is striving to cheat me out of 
that which is mine own?" 

All the light went out of Williard's 
eyes. He had forgotten ! 

*^ou are sure he loves you?" 

"Oh, yes!" 

"Well," with a forced smile, "this is 
the last week of leap year; why not ask 
him? Custom allows such action once in 
lour years." 

"You are not laughing?" 
241 



THE BEST MAN 

"No, I am not laughing," truthfully 
enough. 

"John — ^will you marry me?" Her 
voice was low, like music in a church. 

How still everything suddenly grew! 

"Will you marry me, John ; or will you 
break my heart with your foolish pride?" 

He stared at her dumbly. She bal- 
anced the image of St. Joseph in her 
hand. 

"Shall I toss it into the fire?" she aske'd 
presently, a weariness stealing into her 
tones. 

He tried to speak, but could not. She 
made asf though to fling the image into 
the fire, when he leaned across the table 
and caught her hand. 

"I'm a miserable coward," he said, 
choking. 

"So am I, John. I was afraid I might 
lose you." 

THE END 



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Squire Phin. By Holman F. Day. 

Stooping Lady, The. By Maurice Hewlett. 

Subjection of Isabel Carnaby. By Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler. 

Sunset Trail, The. By Alfred Henry Lewis. 

Sword of the Old Frontier, A. By Randall Parrish. 

Tales of Sherlock Holmes. By A. Conan Doyle. 

That Printer of Udell's. By Harold Bell Wright 

Throwback, The. By Alfred Henry Lewis. 

Trail of the Sword, The. By Gilbert Parker. 

Treasure of Heaven, The. By Marie Corelli. 

Two Vanrevels, The. By Booth Tarkington. 

Up From Slavery. By Booker T. W asTnngton. 

Vashti. By Augusta Evans Wilson. 

Viper of Milan, The (original edition). By Mariorle Bowett. 

Voice of the People, The. By Ellen Glasgow. 

Wheel of Life, The. By Ellen Glasgow. 

When Wilderness Was King. By Randall Parrish. 

Where the Trail Divides. By Will Lilllbridge. 

Woman in Grey, A. By Mrs. C. N. Williamson. 

Woman in the Alcove, The. By Anna Katharine Green. 

Younger Set, The. By Robert W. Chambers. 

The Weavers. By Gilbert Parker. 

The Little Brown Jug at Kildare. By Meredith Nicholson. 

The Prisoners of Chance. By Randall Parrish. 

My Lady of Cleve. By Percy J. Hartley. 

Loaded Dice. By Ellery H. Clark. 

Get Rich Quick Wallingford. By George Randolph Chester. 

The Orphan. By Clarence Mulford. 

A Gentleman of France, By Stanley J. Weyman. 



Popular Copyright Books 

AT MODERATE PRICES 

Any of the following titles can be bought of your 
bookseller at the price you paid for this volume 



Four Poors Mystery, The. By Jean Webster. 

Ganton and Co. By Arthur J. Eddy. 

Heart of Jessy Laurie, The. By Amelia E. Barr. 

Inez. (Illustrated Edition.) By Augusta J. Evans. 

Into the Primitive. By Robert Ames Bennet. 

Katrina. By Roy Rolfe Gilson. 

King Spruce. By Holman Day. 

Macaria. (Illustrated Edition.) By Augusta J. Evans, 

Meryl. By Wm. Tillinghast Eldredge. 

Old, Old Story, The. By Rosa Nouchette Carey. 

Quest Eternal, The. By Will Lillibridge. 

Silver Blade, The. By Charles E. Walk. 

St. Elmo. (Illustrated Edition.) By Augusta J. Evans, 

Uncle William. By Jennette Lee. 

Under the Red Robe. By Stanley J. Weyman. 



y^ 



Popular Copyright Books 

AT MODERATE PRICES 

Any of the following titles can be bought of your 
bookseller at the price you paid for this volume 



Purple Parasol, The. By George Barr McCutcheon. 
Princess Dehra, The. By John Reed Scott. 
Making of Bobby Burnit, The. By George Randolph 
Chester. 

Last Voyage of the Donna Isabel, The. By Randall 

Parrish, 

Bronze Bell, The. By Louis Joseph Vance. 

Pole Baker. By Will N. Harben. 

Four Million, The. By O. Henry. 

Idols. By William J. Locke. 

Wayfarers, The. By Mary Stewart Cutting. 

Held for Orders. By Frank H. Spearman. 

Story of the Outlaw, The. By Emerson Hough. 

Mistress of Brae Farm, The. By Rosa N. Carey. 

Explorer, The. By William Somerset Maugham. 

Abbess of Vlaye, The. By Stanley Weyman. 

Alton of Somasco. By Harold Bindloss. 

Ancient Law, The. By Ellen Glasgovv. 

Barrier, The. By Rex Beach. 

Bar 20. By Clarence E. Mulford. 

Beloved Vagabond, The. By William J. Locke. 

Beulah. (Illustrated Edition.) By Augusta J. Evans. 

Chaperon, The. By C. N. and A. M. Williamson. 

Colonel Greatheart. By H. C. Bailey. 

Dissolving Circle, The. By Will Lillibridge. 

Elusive Isabel. By Jacques Futrelle. 

Fair Moon of Bath, The. By Elizabeth Ellis. 

54-40 or Fight. By Emerson Hough. 



BUR 4 ^ SEKtES 0/ STAN DARP FICTION. 

DARNLEY. A Romance of the times of H tnr/ VIII. and Cardinal Wolsej 
By G. P. R. Jamei. Cloth, lamo. with four iUustrations by J. Watson Davis. 
Price, %t,oo. 

AS a blstorical romance "Darnley"- Is a book that can be taken uB 
pleasurabiy a grain and ag-ain: for there is about it that subtle charm whiclj 
those who are strangers to the works of G. P. R. James have claimed wa« 
only to be imparted by Dumas. 

If there was nothing more about the work to attract especial attention, 
«he account of the meeting of the kings on the historic "field of the cloth of 
gold" would entitle the story to the most favorable consideration of every 
reader. 

There is really but little pure romance in this story, for the author haa 
taken care to imagine love passages only between those whom history baa 
credited with having entertained the teuaer passion one for another, and 
he succeeds in making such lovers as all the world must love. 

WINDSOR CASTLE. A Historical Romance of the Reign of Henry vm 
Catharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworthu Clotho 
samo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price $i.oa. 

••^•■indsor Castle" is the story of Henry VIII., Catharine, and Anna 
Boleyn. "Bluff King Hal," although a well-loved monarch, was none too 
good a one in many ways. Of all his selfishness and unwarrantable acts, 
none was more discreditable than his divorce from Catharine, and his mar- 
riage to the beautiful Anne Boleyn. The King's love was as brief as it 
was vehement. Jane Seymour, waiting maid on the Queen, attracted him, 
and Anne Boleyn was forced to the block to make room for her suc<^essor. 
This romance is one of extreme interest to all readers. 

HORSESHOE ROBINSON. A tale of the Tory Ascendency in South Caro- 
lina in 1780. By John P. Kennedy Cloth, zzmo. with four illustrations by J, 
Watson Davis. Price, Ji.oo. ' 

Among the old favorites in the Seld of what is known as historical flc- 
tion, there are none which appeal to a larger number of Americans than 
Horseshoe Robinson, and this because it is the only story which depicts 
with fidelity to the facts the heroic efforts of the colonists in South Caro- 
lina to defend their homes against the brutal oppression of the British 
Onder such leaders as Cornwallis and Tarleton. 

The reader is charmed with the story of love which forms the thread 
of the tale, and then impressed with the wealth of detail concerning those 
times. The picture of the manifold sufferings of the people, is never over- 
drawn, but painted faithfully and honestly by one who spared neither 
time nor labor in his efforts to present in this charming love story all that 
price in blood and tears which the Carolinians paid as their share in the 
winning of the republic. 

Take it all in all, "Horseshoe Robinson" is a work which should be 
found on every book-shelf, not only because it is a most entertaining 
Btory, but because of the wealth of valuable information concerning the 
colonists which it contains. That it has been brought out once more, well 
Illustrated, is something which will give pleasure to thousands who have 
long desired an opportunity to read the story again, and to the many who 
have tried vainly in these latter days to procure a copy that they might 
read it for the first time. 

THE PEARL OF ORR*S ISLAND. A story of the Coast of Maine. By 
Harriet Beecher Stowe. Cloth, i2mo. Illustrated. Price, $1.00. 

Written prior to 1862, the "Pearl of Orr's Island" is ever nev^; a book 
filled with delicate fancies, such as seemingly array themselves anew each 
time one reads thern. One sees the "sea like an unbroken mirror all 
around the pine-girt, lonely shores of Orr's Island," and straightway 
comes "the heavy, hollow moan of the surf on the beach, like the wild 
angry howl of some savage animal." 

Who can read of the beginning of that sweet life, named Mara, which 
^ame inco this world under the very shadow of the Death angel's wings, 
Witnout having an Intense desire to know how the premature bud blos- 
somed? Agajn and again one lingers over the descriptions of the char- 
,»7*er of that baby boy Moses, who came through the tempest, amid th« 
mgry billows, pillowed on his dead mother's breast. 

"There is no more faithful portrayal of New England life tlian tlwt 
^aicb Mis. Stowe gives in "The Pearl of Orr's Island." 



RICHELIEU. A tale cf France in the reign of King I/)uis XTTT. By G. P, 
R. James. Cloth, i2nio. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, |i.o«, 

In 1829 Mr. James published his first romance, "Richelieu," and waa 
fecognized at once as one of the masters of the craft. 

In this book he laid the story during those later days of the great car= 
dinar s lifp, when his power was beginning to wane, but while it was 
yet sufScieatly strong to permit now and then of volcanic outbursts which 
overwhelmed foes and carried friends to the topmost wav« of prosperity. 
One of the most striking portions of the story is that cf Cinq Mar's conspir- 
acy; the method of conducting criminal cases, and the political trickery 
resorted to by royal favorites, affording a better Insight into the state- 
craft of that day than can be bad even by an exhaustive study of history. 
It is a powerful romance of love and diplomacy, and in point of thrilling 
and absorbing interest has never lieen excelled. 

A COLONIAL FREE-LANCE. A story of American Colonial Times. Zy 
Chauncey C Hotchkiss. Cloth, izmo. with four illustrations by J. Wa»soa 
Davis. Price, |i.oo. 

A book that appeals to Americans as a vivid picture of Revolutionary 
scenes. The story is a strong one, a thrilling one. It causes the true 
American to flush with excitement, to devour chapter after chapter, until 
the eyes smart, and it fairly smokes with patriotism. The love story is 4 
Bingrularty charming idyl. 

THE TOAVER OF LONDON. A Historical Romance cf the Times of Lady 
Jane Grey and Mary Tudor. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth, Cloth, i2mo. with 
four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00. 

This romance of the "Tower of London" depicts the Tower as palace, 
prison and fortress, with many historical associations. The era Is the 
middle of the sixteenth century. 

The story is divided into two parts, one dealing with Lady Jane Grey, 
and the other with Mary Tudor as Queen, Introducing other notable char- 
acters of the era. Throughout the story holds the Interest of the reader 
In the midst of intrigrue and conspiracy, extending considerably over a 
half a century. 

IN DEFIANCE OP THE KING. A Romance of the American Revolution. 
By Chauncey C. Hotchkiss, Cloth, izmo. with four illustrations by J. Watson 
Davis. Price, |i.oo. 

Mr. Hotchkiss has etched in burning words a story of Tankee bravery, 
and true love that thrills from beginning to end, with the spirit of the 
Revolution. The heart beats quickly, and we feel ourselves taking a 
ipart in the exciting scenes described. His whole story is bo absorbmg 
that you will sit up far into the night to finish it. As a love romano« 
St is charming. 

GARTHOWEN. A story of a Welsh Homestead. By Allen Raine. Cloth, 
l2mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00. 

"This is a little Idyl of humble life and enduring love, laid bare befor* 
.as, very real and pure, which in its telling shows us some strong points of 
Welsh character— the pride, the hasty temper, the quick dying out of wrath. 
„ . . We call this a well-written story, interesting alike through Ita 
romance and its glimpses into another life than ours. A delightful and 
clever picture of Welsh village life. The result is excellent."— Detroit Frea 
Press. 

MIFAN^WY, The story of a Welsh Singer. By Allan Raine. ClotH, 
S2mo. with four illustrations by J, Watson Davis. Price, Ji.oo. 

"This Is a love story, simple, tender and pretty as one would care ta 
read. The action throughout is brisk and pleasing; the characters. It is ap- 
parent at once, are as true to life as though the author had known them 
all personally. Simple in all its situations, the story Is worked up in that 
touching and quaint strain which never grows wearisome, no matter how 
often the lights and shadows of love are introduced. It rings true, aui 
does not tax the imaginatlo:;,."'~6oston Herald* 



BVWLT'S SKRI£« &f STANI>A.RI> FiCTIOMo 



THE SPIRIT OF THE BORDER. A Romance of the Early Settlers in the 
Ohio Valley. By Zane Grey. Cloth, izmo. with four illustrations by J. Watsoa 
Davis. Price, $i . oo. 

A book rather out of the ordinary Is this "Spirit of the Border." "The 
main thread of the story has to do with the work of the Moravian mis=> 
Bionarles in the Ohio Valley. Incidentally the reader is given details of the 
trontier life of those hardy pioneers who broke the wilderness for the plant- 
ing of this great nation. Chief among these, as a matter of course, is 
Lewis Wetzel, one of the most peculiar, and at the same time the most 
admirable of all the brave men who spent their lives battling with the 
savage foe, that others might dwell in comparative security. 
i Details of the establishment and destruction of the Moravian "Villag© 
of Peace" are given at some length, and with minute description. The 
efforts to Christianize the Indians are described as they never have beens 
before, and the author has depicted the characters of the leaders of thg 
several Indian tribes with great care, which of itself will be of interest ' 
the student. 

By no means least among the charms of the story are the vivid wor<il 
pictures of the thrilling adventures, and the intense paintings of the beau-:- 
ties of nature, as seen in the almost unbroken forests. 

It is the spirit of the frontier which is described, and one can by it, 
perhaps, the barter understand why men, and women, too, willingly braved 
every privation and danger that the w-estward progress of the star of em- 
pire might be.the more certain and rapid, jfts love story, simple and tender, 
runs through' the book. 

CAPTAIN BRAND, OP VHE SCHOONER CENTIPEDE. By I,ieul. 
Henry A. Wise, U. S. N. (Hairy Gringo). Cloth, i2mo. with four iUustra^ 
tions by J. Watson Davis. Price, Ji.oo. 

The re-publication of this story will please those lovers of sea yams 
who delight in so much of the salty flavor of the ocean as can come through 
the medium of a printed page, for never has a story of the sea and those 
"who go down in ships" been written by one more familiar with the scenes 
depicted. 

The one book of this gifted author which is best remembered, and which 
will be read with pleasure for many years to come, is "Captain Brand," 
who, as the author states on his title page, was a "pirate of eminence in 
the West Indies." As a sea story pure and simple, "Captain Brand" has 
never been excelled, and as a story of piratical life, told without the usuai 
embellishments of blood and thunder, it has no equal. 

*IICK OP THE WOODS. A story of the Early Settlers of Kentucky. By 
Robert Montgomery Bird. Cloth, i2mo. with four illustrations by J. WatsoE 
Davis. Price, $i.oo. 

This most popular novel and thrilling story of early frontier life In 
Kentucky was originally published in the year 1837. The novel, long out ol 
print, had in its day a phenomenal sale, for its realistic presentation of 
Indian and frontier life in the early days of settlement in the South, nar- 
rated in the tale with all the art of a practiced writer. A very charming 
love romance runs through the story. This new and tasteful edition of 
"Nick of the Woods" will be certain to make many new admirers fos 
this enchanting story from Dr. Bird's clever and versatile pen. 

GUY FAWKES. A Romance of the Gunpowder Treason. By Wm. Harrl* 
son Ainsworth. Cloth, lamo. with four illustrations by George Croikshaalet 
Price, |i.oo. 

The "Gunpowder Plot" was a modest attempt to blow up Parliamento 
the King and his Counsellors. James of Scotland, then King of England, 
was weak-minded and extravagant. He hit upon the efficient scheme of 
extorting money from the people by imposing taxes on the Catholics. In 
their natural resentment to this extortion, a handful of bold spirits con- 
cluded to overthrow the government. Flna'ly the plotters were arrested, 
•nd the King put to torture Guy Fawkes and the other prisoners wifte 
Svyal vigor- A very intense iavA/Stes^ sm/i^SfiSBSish the enUre romance, 



AURT'S SERIES of STANDARD FXCTXONo 



TICONDEROGA : A Story of Early Frontier Wfe in the Mohawk Valley, 
By G. P. R. James. Cloth, i2mo. with foor page illustrations by J. Watsoa 
Davis. Price, |i.oo. , 

The setting of the story Is decidedly more picturesque than any ever 
evolved by Cooper: The frontier of New York State, wbere dwelt an English 
gentleman, driven from his native home by grief over the loss of his wife, 
with a son and daughter. Thither, brought by the exigencies of war, comes 
an Engli-sh officer, who is readily recognized as that Lord Howe who met his 
4eath at Ticonderoga. As a most natural sequence, even amid the hostile 
demonstrations of both French and Indians, Lord Howe and the young girl 
And time to make moat delieiously sweet love, and the son of the recluse baa 
already lost his heart to the daughter of a great sachem, a dnsky maiden 
whose warrior-father has surrounded her with all the comforts of a clvilused 
hfe. 

The character of Captain Brooks, who voluntarily decides to sacrifice his 
own life in order to save the son of the Englishman, is not among the least 
of the attractions of this story, which holds the attention of the reader even 
to the last page. The tribal laws and folk lore of the different tribes of 
Indians known as the "Five Nations," with which the story Is interspersed, 
shows that the author gave no small amount of study to the work in question, 
and nowhere else is it shown more plainly than by the skilful manner la 
which he has interwoven with his plot the "blood" law, which demands 8 
life for a life, whether it be that of the murderer or one of his race. 

A more charming story of mingled love and adventure has never beeo 
written than "Ticonderoga." 

ROB OF TH E BOWL : A Story of the Early Days of Maryland. By John 
P. Kennedy. Cloth, i2mo. with four page illustrations by J. Watson Davia 
Price, ^.00. 

It was while he was a member of Congress from Maryland that the 
noted statesman wrote this story regarding the early history of his native 
State, and while some critics are inclined to c-onsider "Horse Shoe Robinson" 
as the best of his works, it is certain that "Kob of the Bowl" stands at the 
head of the list as a literary production and an authentic exposition of the 
manners and customs during Lord Baltimore's rule. The greater portion oC 
the action takes place in St. Mary's — the original capital of the State. 

As a series of pictures of early colonial life in Maryland, "Rob of the 
Bowl" has no equal, and the book, having been written by one who had 
exceptional facilities for gathering material concerning the individual mem* 
iers of the settlements In and about St. Mary's, is a most valuable addition 
to the history of the State. 

The story is full of splendid action, with a charming love story, and ft 
plot that never loosens the grip of its Interest to its last page. 

' B7 BERWEN BANKS. By AUen Raine. 

It Is a tender and beautiful romance of the Idyllic. A charming pictnre 
of life in a Welsh seaside village. It is something of a prose-poem, tme» 
tender and graceful. 

IN DEFIANCE OF THE KINO. A romance of the American Revolution. 
By Chauncey C, Hotchkiss. Cloth, i2mo. with four illustrations by J. Watsos 
Davis. Price, fi.oo. 

The story opens in the month of April, 1775, with the provincial troops 
hurrying to the defense of Lexington and Concord. Mr. Hotchkiss has etched 
In burning words a story of Yankee bravery and true love that thrills from 
beginning lo end with the spirit of the Revolution. The heart beats quickly, 

find we feel ourselves taking a part in the exciting scenes described. Yoa 
ay the b-jok a<!i(le with the feeling that you have seen a gloriously true 
picture of tbe Revolution. His whole story U eo absorbing that you wUl Stt 

op tat lato the nJgut to flnisu it. As a love cgjaance U la cbacmiag.